Human Rights Center 'Viasna' Nominates Zmitser Zhaleznichenka for Student Peace Prize
Human Rights Center Viasna initiated the nomination of the Belarusian student Zmitser Zhaleznichenka for Student Peace Prize.
Human Rights Center Viasna (Belarus), a member of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) proposes Zmitser Zhaleznichenka, who is an example of defending one’s right to education for the Belarusian youth, as a candidate for Student Peace Prize. At present he is illegally detained at a military unite and is forced to give the oath of allegiance, after which he would become a soldier.
Zmitser Zhaleznichenka is a third-year student of the mathematical faculty of Homel State University named after F.Skaryna. He showed an excellent academic progress, and received an increased scholarship for it all the time. His average grade is 9,3 of 10 possible – one of the highest in the university. Zmitser actively participated in the regional intellectual games. He is the vice-chairman of Homel office of the BPF Youth, youth wing of the Belarusian Popular Front Party.
For his active public position and political activity he was twice expelled from the university, but insistently struggled for his right to continue education.
He was expelled from the university for the first time on 7 September 2007 for an administrative violation – he participated in organization of a festival of Belarusian bards.
The students of the historical faculty of Homel State University Stanislau Lapyka, Piatro Valiayeu and Anton Yanachkin sued Zhaleznichenka. They stated that they came to the concert and put 5 000 rubles each in a box that stood at the entrance, but were given no tickets. As a result, on 9 August 2007 The Economic Court of Homel oblast found Zmitser Zhaleznichenka guilty of illegal business activity and fined him 310 000 Belarusian rubles. The Belarusian human rights activists consider this verdict unlawful, because the court did not manage to prove the fact of collecting the money. Zhaleznichenka appealed against the verdict to the Supreme Economic Court, which appointed the consideration of the cassation complaint on 25 September. The university authorities hurried to issue an order for the activist’s expulsion even before the verdict of Homel court came into legal force.
Zmitser did not agree with the expulsion order and warned the dean’s office that he would apply to court. The following day, on 17 September, he was detained by the police at a bus stop in Homel. They said he ‘resembled a wanted rapist’. Then the accusations in rape were removed from him. Instead the policemen accused him of resistance during the detention and dirty swearing. On 18 September Zhaleznichenka was tried. A fifth-year student of the economic faculty of Homel State University, member of the pro-governmental ‘state NGO’ Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) Andrei Sudakou testified that the activist had used foul language. The judge Maryna Damnenka sentenced Zmitser to eight days of jail. He went on a hunger-strike of protest and kept it till the end of the arrest term.
It is frustrating that the Belarusian authorities actively use the accusations in dirty swearing for neutralization of the most active citizens. For instance, on the eve of the peaceful protest action of entrepreneurs of 21 January, the police arrested more than 50 opposition activists on these charges.
On 19 October Zhaleznichenka was summonsed to Homel city military enlistment office. There he refused to fill in the blanks in Russian and demanded that they gave him blanks in Belarusian. The same day the Ministry of Education, to which Zhaleznichenka had applied against his expulsion from the university, upheld this step of the educational institution.
On 1 October the expelled a top student Zhaleznichenka appealed against the actions of Homel State University to Tsentralny district court of Homel. On 16 January 2008 the judge of Tsentralny district court of Homel Viktar Kazachok reversed the order of the rector of Homel state university for expulsion of the student and ruled to rehabilitate him at the place of study.
However, on 22 January 2008 the rector rules to expel Zmitser Zhaleznichenka again and directs his decision to Homel military enlistment office. As a result on 25 January the youngster was directed to a military unit for army service. He was not even given the possibility to appeal to court against his second expulsion.
Only later it became known that on 1 February Savetski district court of Homel issued a particular decision on cessation of the decision of the enlistment office for enrolment of Zmitser Zhaleznichenka to military service because of the committed violations of the order of call up. However, Homel oblast and Homel city military enlistment offices refuse to implement the court decision and release Zmitser Zhaleznichenka from the military unit.
The Belarusian human rights activists, members of the BPF Youth and other public organizations believe that the isolation of an active student and politician Zmitser Zhaleznichenka by means of his unlawful expulsion from the university and recruitment to army eloquently shows the real attitude of the Belarusian authorities to public activists.
The Human Rights Center Viasna has nominated Zmitser Zhaleznichenka as a candidate for the Student Peace Prize.