We protest for freedom, justice and democracy
Dear fellow citizens,
We address you in the midst of an unprecedented crisis in Macedonia. Today, youth and citizens are threatened and attacked in a manner that must not leave a single person indifferent. Civil society organizations are blocked, attacked and labelled. Institutions no longer work in the service of citizens that have created them and that provide the source of their legitimacy. Therefore, as of today, the Youth Educational Forum protests!
WE PROTEST FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AND THEIR PARENTS
We Protest because we fear for the safety and personal integrity of our high school students. Negotiations between high school students and institutions started only after tremendous pressures, after underage children had to spend two weeks on the streets, sleeping in tents and losing classes, not because they wanted to, but because they had to. The Ministry of Education and Science has endangered the future of thousands of children.
We Protest because the institutions, instead of protecting high school students, are tyrannizing and oppressing them. School principals threatened students and teaching staff with numerous repressive measures. They attacked the citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed right to freely express their opinion, including the right of children to have opinion and to be heard, in compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. High school students participating in negotiations are being told that competent authorities “know who is sending them”, while those protesting are targeted with campaigns for personal disqualification.
We Protest because high school students were not consulted about their education. Secondary education policies are irrational and erroneous. The process on secondary education policy making did not take into consideration opinions of relevant stakeholders – teachers, experts, civil society organizations. Therefore, Macedonia will lose generations of intelligent and creative young people, who are the engine of development in any normal state.
There are no excuses that could justify such behaviour. Our children, parents and teachers suffer from this repression.
WE PROTEST FOR STUDENTS, TEACHERS AND PROFESSORS
We Protest against the pressures exerted on professors and teachers by their superiors and the institutions. We protest because their right to strike is restricted. We protest because their right to association has been transformed into game of divisions and disenfranchisement from the relevant trade union.
We Protest because, for years now, the voice of students in Macedonia has been ignored, while there are attempts to diminish and control student activism through monopolized organizations. In the last months, students have been humiliated more than ever before.
We Protest because students were battered, arrested and attacked while studying at libraries. We protest because members of the Student Plenum have been targeted. At the time when this letter is written, seven students are in detention for alleged participation in violent clashes. These students are denied contacts and are isolated. Moreover, even if they are suspected of having committed criminal acts, the students should have been ordered home detention. In fact, these students are political prisoners in their own state.
We Protest because we cannot remain tacit to the brutal attack on the autonomy of universities. The state wants to control the higher education and it forces the higher education, instead of pursuing the truth, to seek evidence in support of governmental policies. Political affiliation is more important than expertise and academic potential, while the number of reforms is more important that the effects they create.
WE PROTEST FOR ALL YOUNG PEOPLE WHO NO LONGER SEE THEIR FUTURE IN MACEDONIA
We Protest against the state’s failure to enable employment for half of its youth population. The number of political party posters one has placed in public became more important than the number of high grades. Youth employed in state institutions is forced to choose between freedom of expression and their job. Young people wishing to start own businesses have to live in constant fear of ordered inspections and state racketeering.
We Protest because every second high school student and almost every student would like to leave Macedonia forever. Our peers have already left the state as they do not want to live in a state that works against their interests. We refuse to be expelled from our state!
WE PROTEST FOR ALL FELLOW CITIZENS IN THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
We Protest because constitutional rights to free movement and to public assembly have been shamelessly violated, while citizens are not allowed to assemble in front of the Government, which has pushed them to this point of no return. We live in a country where safety of baroque façades is more important than safety of citizens.
We Protest because we are not equal before the law. Justice is implemented selectively as a tool to silence those of different mind. Separation between executive and judicial branch of government has been erased, while the state considers disclosure of long-standing abuse of the highest public offices in the state to be a more serious crime than abuse of office itself.
We Protest because politics has been taken away from the citizens. We protest because civil society organizations are perceived as enemy of the state. We protest because the doors of state institutions are closed before the citizens, because their opinions are ignored, because their activists are labelled and condemned.
We Protest because they have divided us along all possible lines. We protest because people are afraid to openly speak about their different sexual orientation. We protest because public administration employees fear the loss of their job if they take to the streets.
We Protest because media landscape has been poisoned with hatred and patronage, and there is only a handful of media outlets desperately struggling to maintain objective reporting and coverage. We protest because we know that as soon as this letter circulates in public, we will be victims of another attack, while our members, for the millionth time in a row, will be labelled.
We Protest because our citizens wake up in fear, for themselves and for their closest.
We Protest and will protest because in any democratic state, when state institutions work against instead of for the citizens, responsible persons resign from their office.
We Support each and every authentic movement that will stand in defence of our country and the final outbursts of democracy!
Until that moment, we will protest and will stand in support of our fellow citizens!