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State repression of university student activists in Belarus

Question écrite de M. Brando BENIFEI - Commission européenne

Question de M. Brando BENIFEI,

Diffusée le 22 décembre 2020

Subject: State repression of university student activists in Belarus

According to a report by the Belarusian Students’ Association (BSA), since the beginning of the academic year, arbitrary detentions have been carried out against students protesting peacefully in Belarus, sometimes with the help of university administrations, with 146 students expelled from their universities for their political activism. In addition, several members of the BSA and other activist students have been arrested by the KGB, while many others have had to leave the country and are now living in exile. These findings have been confirmed by other independent sources.

In the light of these events and the Council conclusions of October 2020:

1. What measures have been and will be taken to freeze cooperation and projects between the EU and Belarusian state authorities, including universities whose leadership has been involved in political repression and human rights violations?

2. What has been done so far and what will be done to redirect EU funds so as to provide urgent and medium-term financial assistance to Belarusian civil society, including young people and students, especially to those individuals and organisations facing state repression, such as the BSA, as well as to the Belarusian political exiles?

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 4 mars 2021

Answer given by Mr Várhelyi on behalf of the European Commission

(5 March 2021)

The EU has been following the situation in Belarus very closely and with increasing concern. In 2020, in view of the gravity of the situation in Belarus, the EU adopted sanctions (1) against 84 individuals and seven entities responsible for the repression and intimidation of peaceful demonstrators, opposition members and journalists, as well as for the misconduct of the electoral process. In line with the EU’s gradual approach, the EU will keep the situation under constant review.

In reaction to the developments and in line with the 12 October 2020 Council conclusions (2), the EU’s bilateral financial assistance to Belarus has been recalibrated, notably by directing it to the maximum possible extent away from central authorities and towards non-state, local and regional actors. The EU’s assistance will focus on areas bringing benefit to the people of Belarus, notably youth, environment, small and medium-sized enterprises/local development, mobility, civil society and independent media.

In addition, the Commission adopted on 11 December 2020 (3) a EUR 24 million assistance package, which will benefit Belarusian civil society, youth, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and improve health capacities. This support comes in addition to the EUR 3.7 million of EU emergency support immediately mobilised for the victims of oppression and independent media after the elections.

A dedicated scholarship programme for students affected by the political crisis and online studying opportunities are also foreseen. When it comes to regional exchange and cooperation programmes, participating universities are regularly monitored to ensure that sanctioned individuals do not benefit from them.

⋅1∙ https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/12/17/belarus-eu-imposes-third-round-of-sanctions-over-ongoing-repression/

⋅2∙ https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/46076/council-conclusions-on-belarus.pdf

⋅3∙ https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_2309





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