Belarus: Bloggers Helped Reinstating Teacher Fired by the British Company Branch on Political Ground

Bloggers in Belarusan Internet (ByNet) had launched an extensive campaign to reinstate a teacher of English Marjana Hruździłovič fired from the Belarusan SOL Language Centre. The reason for the teacher's dismissal had been her objection to the remark of one of the students (incidentally a daughter of Lukašenka's police colonel) who dropped occasionally in a class that the celebration of Belarusan Freedom Day on March 25th is attended by ‘idiots and degenerates’.

The teacher had tried to explain to the students the historical fact acknowledged even by official governmental historians and openly studied at schools that March 25th 1918 Belarusan National Republic had restored sovereignty after 123 years of Russian occupation.  The nationally-oriented people consider this day to be the real Independence Day of Belarus.

It was this discourse into the history of Belarus that had caused her illegal dismissal.

March 25th is a non-grata date in Belarus of Lukašenka who claims that the independence day celebrations should occur on July 3rd  when in 1944 Soviet army reclaimed Belarusan capital from the Nazis. Pro-Russian authoritarian president of the country would regularly call the attendees of Freedom Day marches ‘degenerates’ and ‘grant-suckers’ who ‘wish to destroy the country’.

Mrs. Hruździłovič had been allegedly fired at the collective complaint lodged by the parents of the students whom she has narrated a bit on their history. However the centre management had shown her no official paper confirming that complaint existence  the morning next day while acquainting her with their dismissal decision, Belarusan independent paper ‘Naša Niva‘ and Radio Free Europe (in Belarusan) report.

The call of bloggers to all their readers to re-post the news about illegal dismissal (apart from political factor Vanda Darmajan, the Belarusan SOL center director, has violated the Labour Act which demands at least 30-days firing notice) had resulted in more than 200 mails being received by the management of the centre in Minsk; several bloggers have addressed the UK SOL Centre with the request to investigate into the matter in question; the British ambassador in Belarus had also been informed through official website of the embassy and his blog. As a result, the Belarusan centre management had surrendered to the media pressure and contacted Marjana Hruździłovič offering to ‘investigate into the circumstances’. April 1st she was reinstated as a teacher in Belarusan SOL Center, Radio Free Europe reported.

However, the positive development had nothing to deal with the reaction of the UK organization that shares the same name, the British SOL. The relative success of the solidarity action should be attributed solely to the pressure Belarusan bloggers and media mounted on SOL Miensk. At the same time Mr. Yeo, the head of British SOL Centre, in his letter to blogger czalex insisted that the teachers were not allowed to express their political views in classes (I'm curious what he thinks the teacher should have done when one student publicly offended 30% of Belarusan citizens who acknowledge the Freedom Day?) and that she had been fired for ‘inadequate fulfillment of her professional duties’, the exact formula used by Belarusan SOL management to fire the teacher.

During Alaksandar Lukašenka's governments dismissing people from their jobs and expelling from universities for expressing political beliefs contrary to those propagated by the state had become a regular practice. However, this is the first case of that kind when this occurs in the branch of a company which is based in the UK, the country for which freedom of speech and expression, I hope, are no empty words.

1 comment

  • Alex

    Very nice review of the situation, Vojcech. Thank you. Some charity donors of SOL UK may be glad to find out about their unscrupulous practices of supporting oppressive and anti-democratic organizations in Eastern Europe, that match their stated goals of promoting teaching English. SOL UK has to be much more assertive in selecting where to channel British charitable contributions.

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