Press release

The events from the Korosi Csoma Sandor High School in Covasna reflect the way in which an artificial conflict, generated and fed by the political environment, may influence some high school students, who became players in a battle that shouldn’t be theirs and that shouldn’t happen in an educational institution. The main guilty party for the tensions between the students is the educational system, the one that has an essential role in preventing such conflicts by educating students in the spirit of diversity. We request the high school management and the Ministry of Education to get actively involved and to take actions in order to control a phenomenon which, if it gets out of control, risks taking dramatic proportions. By law, school must not be a space for political arguments, so the management’s intervention should focus on diffusing conflicts, and not feeding them. Moreover, we ask the authorities to respect the citizens’ freedom of expression, irrespective of nationality.

On March 15th, the National Day of Hungary, several students from the Korosi Csoma Sandor High School in Covasna came to school wearing the colours of the Romanian flag. A 9th grade student wore a headband with the colours of the Romanian flag. According to the student's statement, the class master asked her not to wear the band because “there are a lot of discussions about that in the teachers’ room”. The student continued to wear the band on her waist, but the class master took it. On Wednesday, March 20th, the same class master excluded that student together with one of her classmates from the rehearsal of a play for “provocative behaviour”, for the same reason - wearing the headband.

ActiveWatch, a human rights organization that fights for free communication in the public interest, condemns the abusive behaviour of Korosi Csoma Sandor High School’s class master and management, who have prevented a student from wearing a fashion accessory that had the colours of the Romanian flag. Even if the gesture of the student and of her schoolmates can be construed as provocative to the Hungarian colleagues (in the context it occurred), it falls under the limits of the freedom of expression, as there are no serious grounds to justify its sanctioning. If the student acted in a way that has lead to reactions from colleagues, this could have been sanctioned according to the school regulation, but not by confiscating or forbidding the headband.

We considered the intervention of the high school management as disproportioned compared to the fact and an action that increases the ethnical tensions. Unfortunately, such tensions happened before in this high school, but the lack of a responsible reaction from the management has contributed to their escalation. This brutal intervention is also a symptom of the lack of proactive prevention measures, the inexistence of educational strategies that address the specific problems of ethnically diverse communities.
ActiveWatch is asking the journalists to act responsibly and no longer publish the picture of the student, because she is a minor, but also because they risk exposing her to unpleasant situations taking into consideration that the student already received death threats.

We also ask the journalists and politicians to prove maximum responsibility in the way they publicly speak about this topic and not to amplify the tension by exploiting nationalist topics. We would like to remind everybody that, in this context, children are victims of the nationalist discourse uttered by several politicians and supported by the media in the recent years.

ActiveWatch requests the Ministry of Education and Research and the School Inspectorate in Covasna district to sanction the abusive behaviour of the high school management. ActiveWatch also asks the Ministry of Education and Research to develop policies and programmes in the spirit of tolerance, diversity and understanding in order to prevent such cases from happening and to contribute to immunize the population against nationalist and/or segregationist instigations coming from the power centres.

FreeEX Department, ActiveWatch

ActiveWatch / CC BY 3.0