OT: Fw: Sorbian parents to take Saxony to court over school closure
- The saga continues...
Can anyone suggest what a "service according to the Sorbian tradition"
Od: Robert Brytan <rbsorb@...>
Datum: 01 August 2003 13:02
Předmět: Sorbian parents to take Saxony to court over school closure
Eurolang – The European news agency for minority languages
Sorbian parents to take Saxony to court over school closure
Copenhagen 29/07/03, by Brigitte Alfter
A group of parents from the Sorbian language secondary school in Crostwitz
in the German state of Saxony have decided to run a courtcase against the
state: they do not want their children’s school to be closed.
The lawyer of the group, Thorsten Schmidt, intends to run two cases, an
urgent case to postpone the decision until the main courtcase is solved,
and a principal case to try the question of minority protection as
guaranteed in the constitution of the state of Saxony weighed against
general considerations about public funding as requested in Saxonian
Only few weeks before the summer holiday a fax to the local municipality
informed the mayor of Crostwitz that the local public school would not be
paid for anymore after the summer holiday.
The reason given is that there are not enough children. The state of Saxony
recently introduced school legislation requiring at least 20 children per
class and 40 children per school. The Crostwitz school in recent years has
had 13-17 students per class, but after the summer holiday the youngest
class will only have seven students, according to Sorbian and ministry
Thorsten Schmidt also considers the European perspective in the case and
the fact that Germany has signed both the European Charter for Minority
Languages as well as the Framework Convention for the Protection of
‘Germany has ratified them – which it was not forced to do. But when the
state has voluntarily agreed, it also has to safeguard it,’ Schmidt says to
The lawyer is, however, in doubt, whether the case is likely to continue to
the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. ‘First we have to try this on a
national level,’ he says.
The result of the case will not directly have an impact on other German
provinces, unless European legislation is applied. Still Schmidt does
expect it to be followed carefully in the neighbouring province of
Brandenburg, where about 20.000, approximately one third of the Sorbian
minority, live. The other 40.000 members of the Slavonic minority live in
The province of Schleswig-Holstein, further north in Germany, is also home
to two national minorities, Danes and Frisians, and also guarantees
minority protection in its constitution and might keep an eye on the case,
even though the German provinces enjoy substantial autonomy. Thorsten
Schmidt assumes, that a case like this one will typically take two to three
years before a decision is made in Saxony.
While the case is taking its course, the Sorbians have cancelled holidays;
protests and gatherings have been arranged, with another one due next week.
Earlier this month a letter with a plea for help to preserve the Sorbian
school in Crostwitz, as well as other Sorbian schools, was sent to Pope
John Paul II, who himself visited the school 30 years ago, according to
Sorbian daily Serbske Nowiny.
Also the High Commissioner for National Minorities at the OSCE was
addressed by the major Sorbian organisation Domowina, according to
spokesperson Barbora Felberowa. The German-Czech cooperation group ‘Lusatia
and EU’, where several members of the Czech Parliament are represented,
shortly after signed a plea for the preservation of the school to the
responsible Saxon ministry. Sorbian youth have put up banners at their
school, but they were removed by the local authorities, according to
The next event will be held on the 8th of August, the eve of the second
anniversary of the first school strike in Crostwitz two years ago. A
service will be held according to Sorbian tradition, followed by a
gathering at the school to exchange recent information about the case. (EL)