European Parliament values the courage of the democratic opposition in Belarus
Every year, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded by the European Parliament to those who have dedicated their lives to the defense of human rights and freedom of thought. The most recent one was given to the democratic opposition in Belarus, represented by the Coordination Council, an initiative of brave women and political and civil society figures.
Accepting the prize, the main opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said: “Each and every Belarusian who takes part in the peaceful protest against violence and lawlessness is a hero. Each of them is an example of courage, compassion, and dignity.”
The story, the struggle and the persistence of the democratic movement in Belarus is also captured in a new documentary by Aliaksei Paluian, Courage. His film focuses on the Belarusian Free Theatre and its struggle for creative freedom and freedom of speech. Set on the background of turning-point events in today´s Belarus, it allows us to meet many individuals composing the movement for change, with brave women on the frontline.
It is no coincidence that the Belarusian opposition was awarded the 2020 Homo Homini Award. The award ceremony of Homo Homini, honoring the work of an individual or group to promote human rights, democracy and non-violent solutions to political conflicts, opens the One World International Documentary Film Festival every year. This time, the Homo Homini Award was awarded to four, currently detained, members of the Belarusian human rights organization Viasna who have been persecuted for tracking detained protestors, documenting human rights violations and helping victims of police violence. They face up to 12 years in prison for legitimate human rights activities. The prize was presented to Nathalia Satsunkevich from Viasna.
The democratic opposition has been inspiring human rights supporters as well as ordinary people across the world. The European Union has also been showing strong support. In resolutions adopted in Autumn 2020, the European Parliament condemned the Belarusian authorities for their violent repression of peaceful protests and called for EU sanctions against the group of individuals responsible for falsifying the election results and for the violent repression, including President Lukashenka.
"The whole world is aware of what is happening in your country,” said David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, during the ceremony of 2020 Sakharov Prize. “We see your courage. We see the courage of women. We see your suffering. We see the unspeakable abuses. We see the violence. Your aspiration and determination to live in a democratic country inspires us."
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