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24.02.2006 Danger: violence towards minorities in Latvia
February 5th, 2004 the Latvian parliament guided by xenophobic ambitions passed a new law limiting school education in Russian language to a maximum of 40% of the total class volume. Starting from 2007, all exams are to be passed exclusively in Latvian. In practice this means a ban on Russian language in Latvian schools in the nearest future.
Why do we say "xenophobia"? Most of the countries around the globe provide education in their national languages only. Russophones in
Education in Russian has existed in
Latvian authorities claim to know better what the Russophones need; they know it better than the Russophones themselves. Latvian authorities claim that they strive to improve knowledge of Latvian on behalf of the Russophone children in order to raise their competitiveness. Had they really set this objective, they would have invested in better teaching of Latvian language, not into the destruction of teaching in Russian. One of the most well known deputies has said once: "We don't want you to know Latvian; we want you to know your place". This is called xenophobia.
They say that most of the Russophones accept the “reform” and only a few fanatics are against it. This is not true.
The day that the law was accepted, 15 to 20 thousand Russophone students came to the Parliament Hall to express their will. Children shouted “No reforms!” and “Hands off our schools!” for 3 hours non-stop, but nobody seemed to notice. Just in a few hours later the meeting was finished, the law was accepted.
A few days later an even greater manifestation flooded the streets of
Afterwards the protests continued non-stop; manifestations of thousands of people, 2-day precautionary school strike, a mass gathering on May 1st of 65,000 people, five days round the clock picket next to the Ministers’ Cabinet Hall, 21-day hunger strike, another huge meeting on September 1st and 12-day round the clock picket, chaining to the doors of the Ministers’ Cabinet Hall and many more… One should be mad or shameless to say that those people accept the “reform”.
So now, did we resign? No! If the government prefers to ignore us, we will persist in our fight until the “reform” is cancelled. We, the Staff of Russophone School Defenders, a union of pupils, parents and few democratically thinking politicians, call all the goodwill people in the world to support us. We do not want to give up good education. We will never accept violence. Whoever you are, be with us; we are going to put an end to this terror.