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How Russia coerces students in occupied territories to sing Russian anthem – Amnesty International

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School-aged children in Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine are seeing significant violations of their right to education, said Anna Wright, a researcher for Amnesty International, after providing evidence from 23 education workers and 16 affected families.

Russian aggression in Ukraine is seriously limiting access to education in schools, putting the future of children at risk, Amnesty International said.

Parents and teachers risked repression for attempting to continue Ukrainian education during the occupation period. Some even hid their children, fearing their kidnapping to “reeducation” facilities in Russia.

Read also: Russian occupation authorities reportedly force children in occupied territories to write letters to Russian soldiers

Despite the risks, teachers and parents made efforts to organize Ukrainian lessons. The study mentions some “going underground”, secretly conducting classes and distributing books, and fighting against Russian restrictions.

Schools lack qualified teachers, leaving children unsupervised and forced to read textbooks alone, leading to a decline in the quality of education and discipline, families from the occupied territories report.

“The only way to help Ukraine heal and to make Ukrainian children’s present and future less painful, is for Russia to end the war in Ukraine,” stated Wright.

Read also: Russian invaders flood Kherson Oblast with 34,000 propaganda textbooks ‘to brainwash kids’

A school librarian told Amnesty International that she had to secretly arrange meetings with students to give them books, despite Russian military patrols in the streets of their village who often conducted arbitrary searches.  

A teacher from occupied Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, who left the occupied territories in July 2022 but continues to conduct online lessons with children in the occupied city, told Amnesty International about how children are now forced to learn Russian and sing the Russian anthem. Those refusing are threatened with being taken away from their parents for “re-education in Russian orphanages.”

Ksenia, the mother of 15-year-old Kyrylo from an occupied village in Kherson Oblast, told Amnesty International about a teacher’s visit to their home in spring 2022. The teacher asked Kyrylo if he would go to school when it reopens in September. Ksenia said Kyrylo would not attend school. In early September, people in Russian military uniforms came and said, “In case you do not show up at school tomorrow, the bus will come the following week and take you to an orphanage in Russia”. Kyrylo returned to school, only to find it had been decorated with Russian state symbols, while armed personnel were stationed at the door and inside the building.         

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine

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