Belarusian students have been imprisoned over peaceful protests against a tax on the unemployed.
Belarusians have been protesting since early February against a tax of BYR 460, which is equivalent to €330, to those who have been unemployed for more than six months. According to the Guardian, the President of Belarus, Mr. Aleksandr Lukashenko, introduced the tax in 2015 to combat “social parasitism”.
Protesters, journalists and writers have been arrested in recent weeks following demonstrations. At least 32 people have been arrested. Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have called on the Belarusian government to free protesters and drop all charges.
Higher education classes, which are mandatory in Belarus, have been rescheduled to conflict with protest times. The European Students’ Union (ESU) are calling on higher education institutions and the Belarusian government to allow students to protest without punishing students with expulsion, lower grades or other measures. In addition, the ESU are seeking that institutions excuse students participating in the protests for missing classes.
Belarus is a member of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) since May 2015. Infringements on student rights and academic freedom standards are a breach of the 1988 Magna Charta Universitatum and Council of Europe Recommendations.