Teaching repression a lesson: support Belarusian students to get back into university
"Being active in politics or civil society as a student is not self-evident in Belarus. The country has a long and sad history of expelling students from university for their activities in civil society or politics," says an online petition calling on the Belarusian Ministry of Education and the Rectors of Belarusian universities to stop expelling students for their activities in civil society or politics.
The petiiton has been launched by the Human Rights Center "Viasna" together with the Belarusian Students Association (BSA) and the German-Swiss organization Libereco – Partnership for Human Rights.
It mentions the cases of 12 students who were expelled within the last two years from the Belarusian State University in Minsk, the Belarusian State Pedagogical University in Minsk, the Belarusian State Medical University in Minsk, the Pushkin State University in Brest and the State University in Mahilioŭ.
Many of these students were under pressure for their political activities or simply for expressing their opinion. Others were targeted for being involved in the protests of February and March 2017.
"The university administration mentioned other reasons, such as missing classes and exams, or allegedly breaking the law. In reality, all of us were expelled for being active in civil society or politics; or even for simply participating in peaceful demonstrations or exercising the right of freedom of expression," says Piotr Markelau, who was expelled from university in 2015 after participating in the local election as a candidate.
"In my country, just across the eastern border of the EU, it is very difficult to develop any kind of political opinion or social engagement as a student. Broadening your activities beyond your studies might mean the end of your career as a student."