“This peaceful protest, which demands respect for fundamental freedoms, can only be successful with the support of the international community,” said Ales Beljazki, head of the Belarusian human rights center Wesna, who is one of this year’s winners of the foundation. “Otherwise the whole country will go under a Stalinist dictatorship.”
At an online conference on Belarus, Maas said that despite more than 30,000 protesters arrested in recent months, there had not yet been a single criminal case against security forces for police violence. “We are currently discussing with our partners how we can collect evidence of human rights violations in Belarus that is legally valid and how we can then prosecute perpetrators.”
The civil rights activist Svetlana Tichanowskaja called at the forum to support the democracy movement. “If the international community does not support us, we will experience a crisis of democracy.” Other countries should follow the example of the German federal government, said the 38-year-old and demanded that countries should only resume working relationships with Belarus if there is a change there.
Since the controversial presidential election on August 9, there have been strikes and mass protests against ruler Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus. The 66-year-old was confirmed after 26 years in office with 80.1 percent of the vote. The demonstrations against him are regularly suppressed by masked security forces. The opposition is calling for Lukashenko’s resignation and a new election.
Wesna will be awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize this Thursday at an online event. This year’s Luther Prize “The Intrepid Word” went to Tichanowskaja and the Belarusian oppositionists Weronika Zepkalo and Maria Kolesnikowa. “These three women represent thousands of people demonstrating peacefully who are currently fighting for political change in Belarus,” said the jury of the Federation of Luther Cities, an association of 16 places./cht/DP/eas