On April 12, 2022, Belarusian authorities detained Anastasia Navasadskaya, a biology student at Belarusian State University (BSU) in apparent retaliation for her alleged participation in nationwide protests.
Authorities charged Navasadskaya under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code, which bans participation in “group actions that grossly violate public order.” She was reportedly forced to record a confession expressing remorse for participating in the protests and blocking traffic in September 2020.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest of a student for the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Belarus is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting or retaliating against students’ exercise of the right to freedom of expression, so long as it is nonviolent and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, the use of arrests and other legal actions to restrict or retaliate against student expression undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.