Russia suppressing Ukrainian language in occupied areas: report


Human Rights Watch (HRW) on June 18 said that Russian authorities have violated human rights obligations by suppressing the Ukrainian language and injecting propaganda into educational curricula in occupied Ukrainian territories. Changes to the school curriculum include an array of disinformation aimed at justifying Russia’s invasion and portraying Ukraine as a “neo-Nazi state.” According to HRW, Russian authorities have also introduced military training in school, mirroring the resurgence of youth-military training in Russia, and have required secondary schools to send lists of all students aged 18 and up for conscription into the Russian military. International law prohibits the forced enlistment of an occupied population into the occupier’s military.

Experts estimate that about one million Ukrainian children live in the occupied territories.

Bill Van Esveld, associate children’s rights director at HRW, said:

Russia should stop denying Ukrainian children their right to education as guaranteed to them under international law. It should immediately cease attempts to Russify the education system and to carry out political indoctrination in occupied territories of Ukraine.

Access to education is a fundamental human right enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Education recently highlighted a number of other disruptions the country’s educational system has endured during the invasion, including challenges with online learning, deteriorating mental health among students and teachers, and negative effects on students with disabilities.

To complicate matters for the teachers and educational administrators living in the occupied territories, Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine classifies working for occupying authorities as a form of “collaboration activity,” punishable by corrective labor or imprisonment. Despite most educators being compelled to work under these conditions, the Ukrainian authorities continue to enforce these criminal penalties.

From Jurist, June 20. Used with permission.

Note: While all Russian-held territories in Ukraine are considered occupied under international law, Russia has declared much of these territories unilaterally annexed.

Map: PCL