Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and her advisers Franak Viacorka and Alexander Dabravolski took part in the online discussion “How to fight impunity for political repression in Belarus and Russia?” organized by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee in cooperation with the Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the OSCE and with the participation of the Delegation of the Republic of Lithuania and the Norwegian Member of the OSCE PA.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke about political prisoners, mass trials of Belarusians, and politically motivated criminal sentences. The leader of democratic Belarus shared the stories of journalists Darya Chultsova, Katsiaryna Andreyeva, and Katsiaryna Barysevich; of doctor Artsiom Sarokin; and of the participants of the presidential campaigns of Siarhei Tsikhanouski and Viktar Babaryka.
Sviatlana called on the OSCE to work together with the Council of Europe, the UN, the EU, and the United States to find common ground for mediation of the peaceful transfer of power in Belarus; she also stressed that OSCE can become a good platform for such a dialogue.
The experts discussed the problem of impunity for those who committed and continue to commit crimes against representatives of the democratic forces, human rights defenders, journalists, workers, activists, peaceful protesters, and all Belarusians.
Alexander Dabravolski noted the following during the discussion: since Belarusians do not find justice in their own country, they – as victims or witnesses of torture – file complaints to the police abroad under universal jurisdiction. In Lithuania, investigations are already underway on seven applications, and dozens of criminal cases are planned to be initiated in other countries.
Franak Viacorka stressed the unprecedented scale of repressions in Belarus: since the beginning of August, more than 33.000 Belarusians have been sentenced to administrative charges and more than 2500 criminal cases have been opened. He called on European countries to take more decisive actions and expand assistance to Belarusians.
The event was also attended by the head of the Lithuanian delegation to the OSCE PA Vilija Aleknaitė-Abramikienė, member of the Norwegian delegation to the OSCE PA Åsmund Aukrust, representative of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Berit Lindeman.
Full speech by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya at the event:
«Dear Members of Parliaments, ladies, and gentlemen,
I would like to thank you for keeping Belarus at the top of your agenda. Yesterday we marked the 200th day of the peaceful protest.
Our demands remain the same as previously: free and fair elections, immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, and holding accountable those responsible for the grave human rights violations and election fraud.
While Minister Makei claims at the UN Human Rights Council that there is no need to pay close attention to Belarus’s human rights situation, there are 250 recognized political prisoners in Belarus.
Only last week, the court handed down an unprecedented two-year sentence to the brave female journalists Darya Chultsova and Katsiaryna Andreyeva. Lukashenka’s regime punished Darya and Katsiaryna for doing their job.
The court hearing continues in the case of journalist Katsiaryna Barysevich and doctor Artsiom Sarokin. Two innocent people decided to tell the truth about the murder of the peaceful protester Raman Bandarenka. The court hearing against the former presidential hopeful Viktar Babaryka has started. My husband Siarhei Tsikhanouski is charged with organizing mass protests but his guilt is telling the truth and running for president. His two children and I haven’t seen him for nine months. And there are about 900 suspects in politically-motivated criminal cases.
Hundreds of people show up in front of the courts to show solidarity with these people. We need to make sure that they are free as soon as possible and that the national dialogue is finally launched.
And we have a strategy. Since Election Day, our movement has grown and matured, gathering all the democratic forces and building up our alliances. We are working with all society – from sportspeople to journalists, from workers to teachers, from businesspeople to former civil servants.
On our side, we have Belarusian people who have shown their great spirit in the fight for their freedom. They self-organize and coordinate in local communities.
On our side, we have our international friends and partners. We gathered reliable international support from global leaders and the Belarusian diaspora all over the world.
On our side, we have recognized experts in their fields who provide their expertise pro bono to contribute to our common cause of freedom in Belarus.
On our side, we have a peaceful protest that can only lead to peaceful dialogue.
On our side, we have the truth that Belarusian people want change and do not support the status quo. They stood up against violence and lies and will not back off.
We are preparing for the Belarusian Spring. The coming months will be crucial for us, and we need to be at the negotiation table by May.
Your effort to promote dialogue with all stakeholders in the country is precious for Belarusian people. I call on you to use all possible tools of inter-parliamentary diplomacy to contribute to the national dialogue and finding the solutions for the current crisis in Belarus. The work of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative is crucial in this respect, and we will support Miss De Ridder’s efforts.
OSCE is a very important organization for Belarus since we are a full member, and this forum could become a dedicated platform for dialogue. The recommendations and roadmap for starting the OSCE Moscow Mechanism report’s dialogue should be followed up and duly implemented.
The OSCE can also work together with the Council of Europe, the UN, the EU, and the US to find common ground for the mediation towards a peaceful transition in Belarus.
Belarusian people deserve democracy and freedom, they deserve a peaceful transition of power through dialogue. Let us work together towards this goal! I call on you to stand with Belarus!
Thank you».25 February 2021 в 13:24