It has already been fifteen years since former Czech President Václav Havel presented the Homo Homini award to Ales Bialiatski from the human rights organisation Viasna. At that time, the President Havel mentioned his belief that everything would soon turn out well for the Belarusians. Unfortunately, this has not happened yet.
Belarusians protested again against the current regime after the 2020 elections, but still no changes have taken place. Although groups of protesters have continued to regularly take to the streets on Sundays, the atmosphere is different than just after the election, when the country seemed to be on the verge of change. The criminal regime has not fallen, on the contrary, it emphasises the supremacy of its power.
The courts have been putting protesters behind bars for months, and sometimes for several years. They accuse them of organising public unrest, insulting public officials and violence against members of the security forces. In fact, the protesters are often being punished for merely broadcasting live footage from their demonstrations on the Internet or documenting injustice when an OMON special police unit brutally attacked people.
People from across the society took part in the protests. Until recently, civic activists included apolitical businessmen, lawyers, athletes and workers. Many of them are or have been behind bars, they have been or are being tortured. That´s why last year in Belarus we made sure that 72 experts underwent training on the documentation of torture according to internationally recognised standards.
All of these activists and human rights defenders deserve our great admiration and support because, as President Havel once said: “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
That´s why we help in Belarus. And we will never give up.