An online conference on the Belarusian issue was initiated by the United Nations and backed by the diplomatic missions of the United States, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Germany, Poland.In their speeches, the conference participants called on the international community to use their influence on Minsk through diplomatic instruments and prevent civil liberties from ultimately being surpressed in Belarus, Voice of America reports.
Among the speakers was the prominent writer Svetlana Alexievich, the holder of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, a member of the board of the opposition Coordination Council and Chairperson of the Belarusian PEN Centre (it was closed down by the Lukashenka regime in the summer of 2021). She spoke about the Belarusian authorities’ ‘barbaric reaction’ to the protests and the Belarusian society which ‘did not give up their dream of living in a free country’.
“We have to deal with two forces: on the one hand, there is Lukashenka, on the other – Russia, a huge bear. It is not just that the regime is trying to keep the citizens in fear, intimidate people, deprive them of their instinct for freedom and self-belief, but it is also about destroying the country’s civil society and cultural life.”
According to HRW representatibe Rachel Denber, the world is now witnessing not only the Belarusian authorities’ fighting the protesters, but their attempt to eradicate dissent.
The offensive is being carried out not only in the country’s political life but in the field of culture as well, Anais Marin, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation in Belarus, believes. In her speech, the human right defender also made mention of the longstanding discrimination against the Belarusian language and restrictions on its use in secondary and higher education institutions.