A Fight for Equality

10 November 2013
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Hammer and Sickle symbolA Fight for Equality

In September Lib Ed received this article as an email. Attempts to contact the author have failed, but we think it worth posting even though we cannot guarantee its authenticity.The English has been gently corrected.

Greetings!

This is the youth organization FFE (Fight For Equality). We are an internet movement of school and college students in the CIS (the Commonwealth of Independent States, formed after the break-up of the Soviet Union). We have joined together to protect our rights, which are promised by the UN Convention, but are completely ignored by the CIS school system.

While Europe is starting to practise democracy, in Russia we have a school uniform, imposed without taking the children's opinions into consideration. At the same time the government is about to make corporal punishment legal in the schools of Kazakhstan. We are perturbed by the return to totalitarianism, and the fact that the young people are not treated as equal human beings.

We constantly hear from CIS adults, that as long we are still in school and have not got our diplomas and have no permanent workplace, we have no rights. We are obliged to 'belong' to our parents and guardians, and are completely under their control.

As if that wasn't enough, in Russia and its neighbouring countries, any kind of cruel education (corporal punishments, insults, etc.) is viewed by society as the norm. Our guardians completely ignore the fact that their young people have the right to communicate via the internet and they feel justified in invading their privacy. The children's attempts to rebel are ignored, and this is a crime.

What irritates Russian and CIS parents, teachers and guardians the most, is that our movement is spreading information about the rights of young people, and opening our children's eyes to the truth. The majority of them aren't aware of the existence of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A lot of adults claim that this source is 'unhealthy and destructive for the youthful mind,' and find every possible way to block this spreading of information. Many children have been totally cut off from the internet, when their parents have found out.

We are also worried by the fact that Russian adults are slowly returning to the Soviet system, with all the old chauvinism, religious extremism and propaganda for war and violence, and are presenting it to the children in the guise of patriotic education. We are literarily taught to hate Western culture and its democracy, and military training is being introduced in our schools. Our media have been turned into the main source of an uprising cold war. We, however, don't want war and the return of the Soviet Union. We have nobody to turn to for help, except you.

Last but not least, in our country the so-called 'anti-juvenile' movement is gaining momentum, which has the straightforward aim of withdrawing Russia from of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and banning organisations that stand up for Russian youth, such as UNICEF. Their primary goal is to deprive minors of the right to complain to the law enforcement authorities about violation of the UNICEF rules, so turning the family into a totalitarian state within a state. This movement is headed by religious nationalists, and for some time has been supported by our president, Vladimir Putin, and our government.

Our schools are completely comfortless, cold and insanitary. The education system has not evolved or been changed since the Soviet times. It is known to cause stress and disgust. On top of that, there is constant religious propaganda, and a new school subject, 'Orthodox Culture,' has been introduced in elementary schools, thereby violating the children's right to freely choose their opinions, worldview, religion, etc, required by Article 14 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, neither the teachers, the parents, nor the government seem to complain. The progressive methods of education practised in the West, such as the Montessori or Waldorf (Steiner) systems, cause nothing but agitation in our CIS teachers. In some cities, such schools have even been set on fire.

People who grew up in the Soviet Union consider every piece of Western culture harmful, and won't consider changing their minds. That having been said, all we can hope for is the support of international organisations. We ask you to protect the youth of Russia and CIS, and to make our adults aware of young people's rights, supported by the Convention. We will be very grateful for any kind of help in dealing with this situation.

 

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