‘I never sought publicity’: Political prisoner Ihar Losik quits hunger strike

The imprisoned Belarusian blogger decided to end hunger-striking on its 42nd day, RFE/RL reports. The letter in which Ihar Losik announced his decision has been handed over by his defence lawyer Dzmitry Lepretar.

“I have not eaten anything for more than forty days, but I still feel the strength and ability to continue [hunger-striking]. But I was deeply moved by the incredible wave of solidarity as well as by the fact that hundreds and thousands of Belarusians urged me to stop it so that I could stay healthy and live to our common victory. And I know that many people also embarked on [solidarity] hunger strike while I was fasting. I cannot take on such a great burden of responsibility, I do not want others to suffer due to my conscious choice. After reading all these appeals in your letters, I realised that I just could not be the reason of your distress, I could not make my family and all of you worry about me. I never sought prominence, I never sought publicity. I just wanted to live a quiet life and raise my daughter. But I was pushed into resorting to such an extreme measure,” Ihar Losik said in his letter.

In addition, Losik expressed hope that the issue of political prisoners would not be off the table after his quitting the hunger strike.

“Winter is always followed by spring, dawn succeeds night. No one has yet been able to cancel or stop the historical developments with the help of any decrees, arrests, or even executions,” he stressed, referring to the post-election crackdown on protesters and dissidents in Belarus.

Last week, Orthodox Christian priest Uladzislau Bahamolnikau and two medical students, Marharyta Trafimovich and Eleanora Arzumanyan, started hunger-striking in support of Ihar Losik.

‘Freedom to Losik’ : protests in Belarus on January 24

Opposition politician Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya has made a comment on the news:

“I support Ihar Losik in his decision to stop the hunger strike after 42 days. A human’s life is nothing for the regime, but it is the most important value for us, Belarusians. We must unite in demand to release all political prisoners immediately in Belarus.”

Ihar Losik is known as an administrator of the popular Telegram channel Belamova which actively covered the events around the 2020 election campaign in Belarus. On June 25, his place in the town of Baranavichy was searched; the man was then arrested. Human rights activists recognised Losik as a political prisoner and urged the Belarusian authorities to immediately release him.

He was charged under Article 342-1 of the Criminal Code (‘organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order’) and Art. 293 (‘preparation for participating in mass riots’).

Pleading not guilty and considering his criminal prosecution to be politically motivated, he went on an indefinite hunger strike ‘until all accusations were dropped or the measure of restraint was changed’. According to Losik, he has already spent half a year in prison on ‘the absurd charge’; he ‘would have had to use a teleporter’ in order to commit that crime, he stressed in his address published on Telegram. Later, however, the detention period for the political prisoner was extended by three months, until March, 25.

‘Blatant injustice’: Hunger-striking political prisoner asks EU envoys, democratic govts for help