Solidarity with Armenian and Artsakhi students!

Der freie zusammenschluss von student*innenschaften (fzs) und die European Students Union (ESU) wurden nach Solidaritätsstatements mit den Studierenden in Armenien und Arzach (vormals Berg-Karabach) Ziel pro-aserbaidschanischer Online Propaganda. Wir haben deshalb ein weiteres Statement verfasst, um unsere Position zu bekräftigen.
Die ursprünglichen Statements findet ihr hier (fzs) und hier (ESU).

We refute any and all of the accusations against ESU, its members and its presidency.

The 79th Board Meeting of the European Students Union (ESU) has unanimously passed a resolution in solidarity with Armenian and Artsakhi students and calling on Azerbaijan and its most important supporter Turkey to end the war in the region. This resolution was co-sponsored by the fzs. Just days before, the general assembly of the fzs passed a similar motion. As a students‘ organization we stand by students everywhere and speak up to defend their right to a free education under peaceful conditions. The renewed outbreak of war between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Artsakh has brought thousands of students into mortal danger and made their education impossible. The Azerbajiani regime is widely seen as the agressor in this conflict. It is before this background our statements were made. It is sad, but not unexpected, to see a self-declared students organization such as yourself promoting war.

Immidiately following ESU’s statement, hundreds of Azerbaijani loyalists commented on social media, especially twitter, claiming, ESU would follow some sort of Armenian propaganda, accusing Armenia of war crimes and denying the population of Artsakh’s right to self-determination. While we are not commenting on possible war crimes before reliable and independent information is available at least some of these allegations, refering to the original war between the two countries, are highly questionable and at least partly false; as are your claims about 1 Million Azerbaijani refugees. 

It is further alleged that ESU’s decision did not came about in a democratic process – an outrageous claim. To become an ESU member, candidates have to prove they follow democratic principles and are independent of their governments. The fzs has always supported this, even going as far as to declare a conditional withdrawal from ESU in 2015 if the two Azerbaijani unions who were members at the time would not either demonstrate they are able to emancipate themselves from their authoritarian government or be excluded. Both unions have been excluded from ESU in 2017 as they were and are no independent organizations but instead must be considered puppets of the Azerbaijani regime.

Many of the comments have been authored by self-described Azerbaijani government employees, among them student representatives, and spread at least in part by bots. It comes as no surprise that the government of a country which is consistently ranked among the worst countries for freedom of press and human rights wants to paint itself as the victim in this conflict and accuse its opponents as criminals. However, what we can not and will not tolerate is the accusation that fzs and ESU bow to government pressure and follow undemocratic principles. We will also not tolerate the racist personal attacks on the ESU president. The president has been elected into office by the ESU board. She is not dependent on anyone but ESU. We fully support the ESU president and are thankful for her contributions to this resolution. We also want to emphasize that the ESU presidency has no power to pass such fundamental resolutions by itself. 

The fzs declares its unwavering support for ESUs decision, the presidency and all students who are affected by the war over Artsakh, a war Azerbaijan is mainly responsible for. We will not be intimidated.

The fzs Executive Board