On July 12, 2O21, the United Nations Development Program in Syria announced, via its Facebook account, the launch of the annual international competition for the Hult prize – known as the ‘Nobel Prize for students’ – with the participation of all Syria’s universities, in cooperation with the Syrian regime’s Ministry of Higher Education and the Student Union in Syria.
In this statement, the Syrian Network for Human Rights wishes to draw the attention of the United Nations Development Program in Syria to the fact that the ‘National Union of Syrian Students’ is an entity closely associated with a number of Syrian regime security bodies, which is involved in dozens of grave human rights violations, most notably the suppression of student protests against the Syrian regime and persecution of protesters, which resulted in the arrest of thousands of university students, a large number of whom have been subjected to widespread systematic torture and enforced disappearance. The torture and enforced disappearance committed by the Syrian regime constitute crimes against humanity. In addition to this, the ‘National Union of Syrian Students’ has conscripted dozens of students to work on behalf of regime security bodies in collecting data on their fellow students who were active in the political movement against the regime, with the aim of persecuting them, harassing them, and ensuring their expulsion from their universities.
We at SNHR fear that the United Nations Development Program’s reputation will be tarnished by association with an entity such as the ‘National Union of Syrian Students’ that is involved in grave violations of human rights, with cooperation and support for such entities involved in human rights violations classified as a form of participation and complicity in these practices and supportive of them, as well as providing encouragement to continue committing such heinous violations. We demand the end of all forms of coordination and cooperation with this entity until it is completely free from subordination to the Syrian regime’s brutal security bodies, and is held accountable, along with the individuals working with it, and until its victims receive compensation, an apology, and a pledge not to repeat its pursuit, arrest, persecution and threats against Syrian students.