What’s going on in Belarus?
In August 2020 Alexander Lukashenko held another presidential election, after being in power for 26 years. Lukashenko is often called “the last dictator in Europe” and, true to form, Lukashenko declared that he had won the election with 80.1% of the vote. The result was widely disputed and in the following months hundreds of thousands of Belarusians protested for democracy and a fair result.
Lukashenko reacted to the protests with brutal force, beating and arresting thousands of peaceful protestors.
It’s now three years later…
Since those protests of August 2020 thousands of Belarusians have been arrested and imprisoned, sometimes for simple things like posting criticism of Lukashenko on social media, flying protest flags or signing letters criticising the election in 2020. Also, hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have fled the country because of the ongoing oppression and obliteration of human rights.
Even three years after the disputed election Lukashenko is still crushing any criticism and dissent, with arrests ongoing, political prisoners sentenced to years in prison. In the years since 2020 Lukashenko has supported Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, allowed nuclear weapons to be hosted in Belarus and now hosts the Wagner private army.
What are the posters and yellow labels about?
The posters in the corridor highlight some of the thousands of Belarusians who have been imprisoned for their actions against Lukashenko’s regime. We have highlighted some prisoners’ drawings and some poems.
The yellow labels in the courtyard display the name of 1,500 of the political prisoners who are being held. These come from the Belarusian human rights organisation Viasna 96.
Prisoners are only allowed to receive letters from immediate family and two visits a year, although prison authorities often withdraw these rights. It’s not unusual for political prisoners to be kept in solitary confinement for months as prison authorities pressure anyone who dissents against Lukashenko’s rule.
How can I help?
If you’d like to help some political prisoners or their families then you can support the Belarusian organisation “A Country to Live In”. Since 2020 this organisation has paid more than €200K to families of political prisoners, as well as giving gifts and support to children of prisoners.
If you’d like to support Libereco’s work in arranging political support for Belarus and in raising public awareness across Europe of the situation of political prisoners then you can donate here.
If you’d like to contact us about getting involved, or to ask anything, then e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org