Belarus Crisis: EUA, ESU Condemn Acts Against Students and Belarusian Universities Staff

The European University Association (EUA) together with the European Students’ Union (ESU) have expressed concerns over the violation of human rights and democracy in Belarus during protests taking place in the country after Alexander Lukashenko won his sixth term in office, on August 9 presidential elections.

EUA and ESU have condemned the acts against students and Belarusian universities and have called on authorities in Belarus to prevent protests and guarantee to all citizens, including students and staff of universities, the right of free expression, assembly and protests, Erudera College News reports.

Among others, EUA and ESU have also called on the Belarusian government to review the latest decision on non-recognition of diplomas from international educational institutions, which is not in accordance with the Lisbon Recognition Convention.

The two organizations have stated that the continuance of higher education reform work with the Belarusian Ministry, in the framework of the Bologna Process, is unsuitable and impossible during the current situation in Belarus. The latter has been established based on mutual trust, transparency, collaboration between governments and higher education representatives as well as respect for academic freedom and institutional autonomy.

All members of the Bologna Process, including Belarus, have pledged to respect the mentioned values in the Paris Communiqué of 2018. The reinforcement of these values is expected to take place on November 19, 2020, by signing the Rome Communiqué.

Expressing solidarity, EUA and ESU along with their members, said they would work towards offering support to Belarusian students and staff at Belarusian universities.

In 2019, nearly 80 per cent of endangered scholars had been supported by Scholars at Risks (SAR) and were welcomed at European higher education institutions. Each year, many requests for support are cancelled as a result of insufficient funding for placements. Therefore, EUA and ESU in cooperation with Scholars at Risk and the Inspireurope project partners have urged the European Commission to set up a European and Fellowship Programme for researchers who are at risk.

In order to facilitate students in Belarus, many countries have offered them scholarships. The Slovak government has announced earlier that it will offer scholarships to Belarus students whose studies have been affected by the political crisis in the country. Other countries, including Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, have also expressed readiness to support students in Belarus.

Almost three months have passed since Alexander Lukashenko secured his sixth term in office winning 80 per cent of the vote, an event which has triggered violent protests across the whole country.

Quickly after the election, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Minks opposing Lukashenko’s election which according to them, has been undemocratic. Even three months later, protesters continue to gather, demanding Lukashenko’s resignation.

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