Belarusian military authorities no longer consider the number of teenagers entering their so-called “military-patriotic camps” sufficient. Now they are attempting to put under the gun regular senior pupils from general education schools.
This signifies a heightened involvement of Belarusian schoolchildren in the ongoing process of militarization, which is steadily engulfing the entire country. Presently, teenagers are being sent to military units as part of their… summer internship. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that declining participation in such military gatherings (which are not specified by law) is simply not an option.
One of the Belarusian independent media outlets publishes a letter from one of its readers, a mother whose son is an 11th-grade student in one of the schools in Minsk. She, in particular, writes, “My son moved to the 11th grade, but prior to that, they had a summer internship. This year, my son had school internship at a military training ground. I expressed my categorical refusal, but I was told that in that case, I needed to retrieve his documents from the school. So, my son embarked on his school internship at a military base. During this so-called ‘internship’, the children were exposed to military discipline; for instance, they had to make their beds and were not allowed to sit on them during the day. The children went to the firing range, where they engaged in machine gun firing. I can only hope that they weren’t using live rounds. They also had to ride on tanks. In other words, they underwent thorough military training.”
According to the woman, her son returned from these military training sessions deeply psychologically affected. Specifically, he didn’t respond to any questions, and furthermore, he refused to engage in conversations about the so-called “internship”, displaying evident distress. There’s an obvious psychological trauma. It is evident that during his time at the ‘range’, the teenager was exposed to integral aspects of Belarusian military service, including hazing, rigorous drilling, and the arbitrary behavior of officers.
Moreover, as it turned out, girls in Belarusian schools were not exempted from military training at all. They were also sent to the same military unit during the summer. There, they had to undergo training in the role of junior medical nurses.
It is clear that parents of schoolchildren are now bewildered and horrified. They do not know whether their children will be allowed to continue their education after the 11th grade. Or is the state preparing to conscript the entire young population of Belarus immediately after school, without any right to choose?