Watching recent events in Belarus it becomes clear that they need immediate international attention and reaction. Every voice speaking about it loudly now is important. We as a Baltic Writers Council (BWC) uniting 21 literary organization in the Baltic region and realizing the commitment that writers and translators have to the promotion of democracy, peace and freedom of speech feel eager and obliged to express our position about the situation in Belarus.
For the past 26 years, the dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko has been the President of Belarus. Over the course of his presidency, he suppressed the opposition by putting them in prison or forcing them to exile. On August 9th, 2020, another presidential “election” took place. Many of Lukashenko’s opponents were either imprisoned on the basis of fabricated allegations, or had to flee the country. But Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was allowed to run for presidency. The regime hoped to use her as a puppet to make the elections look legitimate. She managed to unite opposition and the people of Belarus voted for her.
There are hundreds of pieces of evidence proving that the absolute majority of people voted for Svetlana. Some polling stations published real results in which Lukashenko had fewer than 5%, and Tikhanovskaya at least 70%. People were queueing to vote, but thousands were not able to. Innumerable violations were witnessed and documented. The government’s official statement was exactly the opposite – saying that Lukashenko won the elections.
The night after the election, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets all around the country for peaceful demonstrations against illegitimate elections. The police and Special Forces met them violently. They used stun grenades, rubber bullets, and batons against unarmed citizens. Many people have been detained, thousands were beaten, journalists were not allowed to cover the events, and some of them have been imprisoned. The internet was cut off. Peaceful demonstrations continue until now, the protesters are brutally beaten and tortured in prison. But people don’t want to stop or give up. More and more protesters keep coming out to the streets. National strikes began.
We condemn the illegitimate elections, violations of the freedom of speech and human rights in Belarus, the state’s violence against its own peaceful citizens in the streets of Belarus and in detention centres. Dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko must step down and Svetlana Tikhanovskaya must be declared the rightful President of Belarus. This is the only way for Belarus and the international community must do everything that is possible to help. Our heart goes to the peaceful protesters, strikers and all the people of Belarus, affected by this adversity. We hope and pray for a democratic, peaceful and free Belarus in the nearest future.
The Board of the BWC