Belarus Holds 1500 Political Prisoners

Journal Press: On the Day of Solidarity with Belarusian Political Prisoners, the United States has condemned Belarus for the unjust detainment of over 1,500 political prisoners. These individuals were arrested for exercising their fundamental human rights, fighting for democracy, and opposing Russia’s war on Ukraine. Many of these political prisoners have endured closed-door trials that lack public scrutiny and accountability, leading to their families and loved ones living every day in fear for their safety.

Belarusian authorities have recently taken further measures to cut off contact with the outside world for political prisoners, such as Viktar Babaryka, Syarhey Tsikhanouski, Mikalai Statkevich, Maria Kalesnikava, Maksim Znak, Ales Bialiatski, and Ihar Losik, leaving their families and legal representatives in the dark about their well-being.

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The United States joins the people of Belarus in their pursuit of a future based on the rule of law, respect for human rights, and a democratically elected government. The US government calls on Belarus to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, meeting its international legal obligations and commitments to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, as a participating state of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The United States is fully committed to promoting accountability among perpetrators of human rights violations in Belarus and raising the costs associated with their abuses. The US government has imposed visa restrictions and sanctions on individuals responsible for these atrocities.

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A Brief History of Belarus

Belarus gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, becoming a sovereign state. Since then, Belarus has faced significant political turbulence, a lack of economic growth, and a repressive regime. Over the years, the country has transformed from an authoritarian presidential republic to a dictatorship under the current President, Alexander Lukashenko.

Lukashenko came into power in 1994 and has remained in office, despite rigged elections and opposition to his leadership. When it comes to human rights, Belarus ranks poorly, with reports of the government abusing citizens’ basic rights and freedoms.

The 2020 Belarusian Presidential Election

In 2020, Belarus held its presidential election, which saw President Lukashenko win a historic sixth term. However, the legitimacy of the elections was brought into question by the opposition, who claimed that Lukashenko had rigged the elections in his favor.

The election results sparked nationwide protests and a massive crackdown by authorities on protestors and opposition leaders. The government arrested and detained many supporters of the opposition, who challenged the election results. These people were peacefully protesting and exercising their democratic rights, yet they were treated as criminals.

Many of them, including some of the opposition leaders, were arbitrarily detained and subjected to police brutality. Some were even taken into custody before the election, with two opposition figures disappearing in the lead-up to the election date. The government’s crackdown on the opposition and protestors continued, leading to the detainment of over 1,500 political prisoners, who remain imprisoned to date.

The Impact of Belarus’ Political Turmoil

Belarusian political prisoners are faced with deplorable living conditions devoid of basic human rights. They are living in subpar cells, with limited access to food, medical attention, and clean water. Their loved ones struggle with insecurity and anxiety, as they are denied access to legal representation and cannot communicate with their detained friends or relatives.

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The crackdown on the opposition and protestors has caused significant economic damage, leading to job losses and a decline in economic growth. The government’s actions have also damaged the country’s relationships with other nations, leading to increased tensions with the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom.

A Call-to-Action

The situation in Belarus requires immediate attention from the international community. The United States has taken steps to impose sanctions and call out the Belarusian government’s human rights abuses. The international community must follow suit, working together to secure the release of political prisoners and ensuring the country respects human rights and democracy.

In conclusion, the United States condemns the Lukashenka regime’s unjust detainment of over 1,500 political prisoners. We call for their immediate release and demand that Belarus meets its international legal obligations. The United States commits to promoting accountability and raising awareness of these injustices. We stand with the people of Belarus in their fight for basic human rights and democracy.