SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: April 22, 2022

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Borisov Medical College

Region & Country:Europe | Belarus

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 22, 2022, authorities reportedly detained Ales Butenko, a lecturer of surgery at the Borisov Medical College, and searched his home in apparent retaliation for his nonviolent opposition to the war in Ukraine.

Butenko had reportedly expressed his opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during his class. Authorities have not publicly disclosed Butenko’s whereabouts or what charges he faces, if any.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest of a scholar for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression — 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 scholars’ 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, arrests and other legal actions restricting or retaliating against nonviolent expressive activity undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.