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Journalism Students Forced to Write Obligations Not to Travel Abroad

2006 2006-10-26T10:00:00+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

In early October Belarusian School of Journalism, together with the Polish Center of International Relations, carried out a training seminar for Belarusian journalists in Warsaw. Among the participants there were students of the Journalism Department of the Belarusian State University. On the way back to Minsk a group of seminar participants went through the passport control on the Poland-Belarus border. A KGB employee took down the names of all students who had participated in the training session. Dasha Rumiantsava, member of BPF youth and a sophomore student of journalism at BSU, was one of such students.

On October 24 Dasha was invited to the dean’s office for a conversation with deputy dean for ideology Hanna Kureychyk. Dasha explained where she was on October 2-6. However, that was not enough for Ms. Kureychyk. She demanded from Dasha to write an explanation to the dean. Dasha wrote that she was absent from classes because of participation in a training seminar for journalists in Warsaw. Ms. Kureychyk was not satisfied with the explanation and called for dean Siarhei Dubovik to continue the conversation with Dasha. The dean threatened the girl with expulsion from university and accused her of deliberate violation of the university statute. After that he insisted that Dasha should re-write the explanation note. Dasha had to write at his dictation that she had deliberately missed classes and violated college internal regulations. The administration was not satisfied with Dasha’s verbal promise not to repeat her mistake: they asked her to sign an obligation not to travel abroad without permission of the dean and special permission of the Education Ministry. It should be pointed out that the Education Ministry grants permission for participation only in educational programs organized by partner organizations of BSU. Besides that, one needs to apply at least 30 days before the trip.

About 10 students of journalism faculty participated in the training seminar for journalists together with Dasha. They all had to sign similar obligations. Does the dean have the right to demand that from students? Uladzimer Labkovich, head of legal group of BPF party, comments:

-- This is a serious violation of the human right to freedom of movement. At the same time, obviously, the dean does not have the right to demand signing of any obligations from students. Such obligations are not official and have no legaleffect. This is an ordinary intimidation of students and threats about expulsion. The government is scared and does everything to deprive people of the opportunity to participate in educational programs, which, unfortunately, cannot be held in Belarus.

What does Dasha Rumiantsava think about the whole situation? The student says:

-- They forced me to write things I didn’t want to write. I did this under constraint. They threatened me with expulsion although I pay for my education. Besides that, according to the BSU statute, a student may be expelled only if he or she missed 25% of all classes during a semester. I think that the dean has seriously violated my rights. Neither the dean, nor his deputy wanted to listen to my explanations that the seminar was useful for me as a future journalist. That was very disappointing.

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