Call for action and solidarity with Belarus
During ESU´s emergency, student online meeting held on Saturday 5th September NUSes heard from representatives from BSA and BOSS on the ongoing demonstrations in Belarus and the consequences that students are facing for their activism. For further information on the happenings you may read through:
- ESU’s statements: (1) On the Rigged Presidential Elections in Belarus (2) Student arrests in Belarus
- Washington Post: We are the Future in Belarus – and that future doesn’t include Alexander Lukashenko
- Reuters (1) Police drag Belarus students from university building, arrest five, rights group says (2) ‘Hands off the children’: masked men arrest protesting Belarusian students
- CNN: (1) 40 student protesters detained after clashing with police in Belarus (2) Video shows students violently detained in Belarus
- Student detainments: **Follow updates below on specific cases of student arrests
- Twitter: Videos showing police dragging students through the corridors of MSLU
- To follow updates in real time: https://www.facebook.com/groups/infocenterfreebelarus2020/
A number of action points were brought up during the discussion. These are listed below for you to consider engaging your national student unions.
- Organising peaceful demonstrations: in big cities or big universities (e.g. through solidarity chains, or student gatherings with posters and placards) to (1) raise awareness on ongoing violations to peaceful demonstrators and (2) show support to Belarus and students. Please share (if possible in English and or your native language) pictures, videos and live streams of your demonstrations on social media using #westandwithbelarus / #freebelarus and tag ESU, BSA and BOSS. E.g.: Human Chain in Lithuania.
- Fundraising: https://www.belarus97.pro/eng – this link directs you to one of the main fundraisers for repressed people in Belarus. Please share (if possible in English and or your native language) any funding campaigns on social media using #westandwithbelarus / #freebelarus and tag ESU, BSA and BOSS.
- Calling upon your higher education institutions to address letters to Belarusian institutions**: Address joint letters co-signed by your student unions (national/regional/local/ institutional) and your institutional leaders (deans, senates, councils and academics) to the universities in Belarus (1) condemning violation of students’ rights to demonstrate peacefully, (2) demand values of academic freedom be upheld, (3) express a warning to terminate any engagement with those Belarusian universities where students report being persecuted and detained. The contacts of the Belarusian universities and their social media accounts can be found here. Please share these letters over social media, tag the universities, use the hashtags of the campaign and tag ESU, BSA and BOSS.
- Calling on engagement of the EUA and European Commission: A letter has been drafted asking for national/ institutional representatives within the European University Association and the European Commission DG EAC, DG NEAR and EEAS, to engage and put pressure on Belarusian institutions. NUSes, students and any other interested parties may support these letters by interesting your contact information as a comment in the documents.
**We kindly ask you to share pictures of you/ NUS with the printed letters written with your institution representatives before sending it to the authorities and share it on social media along with the # proposed above. Likewise, if you have any meetings with institutional, national representatives.
Please remember to document all actions and keep us, firstname.lastname@example.org, @email@example.com and our Communications team firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com in the loop to share these over our online platforms.
**Student Arrests in Belarus:
CASE 1: Detention and trial of a student from the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics. Last updated 15th Sept 2020:
Mikhas Klachkou was detained on the 13th of September at the March of Heroes, severely beaten during the detention, after which he was taken to the Central Police Department. He was sentenced to 10 days of arrest under Part 1 of Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code of the Republic of Belarus (participation in a mass unauthorized event).
The trial over Mikhas took place in the Central Court of Minsk
- The time of the court hearing became known in 40 minutes. Purely physically, there was no opportunity to invite a lawyer to attend the hearing.
- The trial took place online, via Skype. Those present did not have the opportunity to see Mikhas and his physical condition – the laptop was there only for the judge. Also, Mikhas did not have the opportunity to see the people who came to support him.
- Mikhas admitted his guilt in participating in the rally. The judge said that he was charged with taking part in the rally. He asked if there were differences in the wording, the judge answered in the affirmative, but did not explain what.
- The witness, a police officer, was also present online. The judge explained that due to pressure on employees and threats against their families, all witness identification would be encrypted. The witness was in a mask and introduced himself as Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov. When asked “where, how and at what time Mikhail Sergeevich Klachkov was noticed” he answered that it was a long time ago and he does not remember. When asked by Mikhas “do you remember how I was dressed” he answered the same way – I do not remember.
- Before the judge left for a decision, Mikhas stated that he had been beaten by officers of the Central Police Department, who were trying to get access to his phone and telegram data. He said officers took him to the vestibule and beat him until he lost consciousness. After that, at 10 pm, his account in the Telegram was marked “online”.
CASE 2: Nastya Dudina is 20, she is a 4th year student at the Belarus State Economic University (BSEU). Last updated 8th Sept 2020:
Nastya is being charged under Article 293 Part 2 of the Criminal Code – “participation in mass riots”. On the 7th of September at 7 am, unidentified police brought Nastya from her home to be interrogated, without the notification of her mother. Her house was searched with no warrant and the clothes she was wearing during the protest where she suffered injuries due to the explosion of a flash-noise grenade were taken to the investigative committee. The student is detained and the details are being investigated.