8 months since the presidential elections held in Belarus which saw the contested confirmation of president Lukashenko, the Italian section of Scholars at Risk (SAR Italy), in agreement with the Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI) has sent a petition addressed to the Belarusian authorities to express our deep concern regarding the attacks on the academic community in the country.
According to different international sources, following the elections in August 2020 several peaceful demonstrations took place in Belarus calling for a real process of democratization in the country; these demonstrations were violently repressed by the Belarusian authorities. Many students and academics took part in these demonstrations, many of whom were subsequently stopped, detained, legally prosecuted, fired or expelled from the universities. The exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, which are protected by the Belarusian Constitution, in Articles 8, 33, 35 and 36, have been violated. These attacks against the university communities are incompatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In light of these facts, SAR Italy calls for the immediate release of students and professors, political prisoners, journalists and activists arrested for having exercised their rights to the freedom of expression and association, and call on the authorities to cease using force on the demonstrators.
This initiative stems from the will of SAR Italy member institutions to protect and promote academic freedom as a fundamental value of higher education institutions. The careful monitoring of the situation in Belarus on the part of SAR Italy has been supported also by the association Supolka, one of the main voices of the Belarusian student community in Italy that has been active from the beginning in support of the peaceful protests in the country.
The petition is part of a series of joint activities between these organizations in Italy.
[original source: https://www.scholarsatrisk.org/sections/sar-italy/section-news/sar-italys-appeal-to-stop-the-violence-against-the-academic-community-in-belarus/]