DaneshjooNews interview with Marek Baranski (ESU Student Union Development Committee)

Jan 19, 20110 comments

Read the interview in Farsi. Last week DaneshjooNews.com published an interview (in Farsi) with Marek Baranski, member of the European Student Union‘s (ESU) Student Union Development Committee (SUDC). The English interview is below. The SUDC works to support the development of student unions in Europe in cooperation with the other working structures of ESU and national student unions.

Marek Baranski of the ESU's Student Union Development Committee

DN: Can you tell us about yourself and the ESU committee? MB: My name is Marek Baranski and I represent the European Students’ Union (ESU) [and am part of the] “Students Union Development Committee,” [which] consists of two people – Lily Ivanova and me. The SUDC is tasked with supporting the development of student unions in Europe and to cooperate with the working structures of the ESU and national student unions, as well as to support other student organizations across the world. DN: As you know there is a socio-political movement in Iran working towards democracy and human rights. The peaceful activities of the opposition groups have been suppressed violently by the government… Iranians are looking for solidarity from international organizations and hoping they will exert pressure on Iranian government. In this context, how can the ESU work to support civic activists inside Iran? MB: The European Students’ Union (ESU) is an umbrella organization of 45 National Unions of Students (NUS) from 38 countries . The NUS is open to all students in their respective country regardless of political persuasion, religion, ethnic or cultural origin, sexual orientation or social standing. Our members are also student-run, autonomous, and representative and operate according to democratic principles. The ESU is involved in many actions to illuminate the dramatic situation in Iran, where it is not only everyday citizens suffering, but also a number of students struggling against the regime. The ESU took part in many conferences [in order to better understand and maintain awareness] of the situation in Iran. ESU, as an example of “soft power,” can influence politicians to [act] and put more pressure on the Iranian authorities to respect human rights. DN: Do you believe that relations between Iranian student activists and their peers in Europe can be built on the platform of such international values as human rights? How can Iranian student activists attract their European peers’ attention regarding their ongoing struggle inside Iran? MB: [The] ESU has a long history of cooperation not only with Iranian students, but also with colleagues from all continents. [It is] not only human rights, but various factors and common struggles that act as our shared base. Students face similar problems everywhere and our task is to [address] these problems. Mutual, friendly relations exist and will least for ages. The Iranian students movement is a proven partner of the ESU, for Iran’s students face some of the same problems as did Central and Eastern Europe students only a couple years ago (and still in Belarus today). But [with persistent efforts] and a strong will, change can be a reality. Iranian students should [continue to alert] their European colleagues that their issues exist. [It would also be a] good idea to create a network of Iranian students in Europe to support each other, exchange knowledge, and organize projects. DN: Recently, many of Iran’s student activists have fled the country as a result of heavy oppression. How they can contribute to local student organizations in Europe? MB: The students who were forced to leave Iran were very active students with great knowledge, good skills and highly respected. It definitely means something to [show dissent] in an oppressive country like Iran. These skills and experiences can be used in Europe in various ways, including by giving testimonies, which can make a huge impression on Europeans who have forgotten what it means to fight for human rights and independence; by organizing a European network to support those who [were forced] to leave Iran; and by supporting those students already in Europe but continue to face various problems and difficulties.

To learn more about the ESU, visit the organization’s website.