An online conference dedicated to the Day of Solidarity with Belarus was held; Angela Merkel called for an end to violence in Belarus; journalists’ associations call for measures to support Belarusian colleagues; students and soldiers from Belarus could be sent to Syria
6 February 2021 | Voice of Belarus
Opening of new People’s Embassies and additional sanctions: an online conference was held on the Day of Solidarity with Belarus
Today, 6 February, the online “Solidarity Conference” was held in conjunction with the Day of International Solidarity with Belarus, which is to be held on 7 February. It was attended by politicians and diplomats from different countries. The meeting was opened by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. The conference was attended by the Vice-President of the European Parliament Nicola Beer, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, German Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, German MEP Michael Galer, Lithuanian MEP Andrius Kubilius, Polish MEP Robert Biedron, Swedish MEP Karin Karlsbro, member of the German Bundestag Manuel Sarrazin. All of them expressed their admiration for the peaceful Belarusians who, despite the incessant violence, continue to fight for their freedom. Today, the example of Belarusians inspires freedom fighters in Russia and other countries. Vice-President of the European Parliament Nicola Beer spoke in favor of imposing sanctions against Belarusian judges. “Personal sanctions imposed on representatives of Belarus’s security forces are not enough. We must expand them to include representatives of the judicial and law enforcement systems, supporters of (Alexander) Lukashenko,” Beer said.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Germany would create a mechanism to collect evidence against those who violate human rights in Belarus. Also, Germany will allocate up to 21 million euros to implement a program aimed at supporting civil society in Belarus. “We will create a mechanism to collect evidence against those who violate human rights. The day will come when they will be held accountable. The day will come when the people of Belarus will be able to live in conditions of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law,” he said.
At the conference the opening of 7 more People’s Embassies of Belarus was announced. In total, 22 People’s Embassies were opened in different countries. Their main function is to protect the rights and interests of Belarusian citizens abroad, as well as to represent the interests of a democratic Belarus.
The head of the National Anti-Crisis Management Pavel Latushka expressed confidence that soon a white-red-white flag would be raised above each embassy as the official flag of new Belarus.
Angela Merkel urged the current authorities of Belarus to immediately end repressions
In her weekly speech German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that her country and the EU do not recognize the results of the past presidential election in Belarus. The elections were not free, fair and transparent. OSCE observers were not allowed to observe the presidential election in Belarus. Merkel calls on the Belarusian authorities led by Alexander Lukashenko to immediately end the repressions and release political prisoners. The German government approved a plan to support civil society in Belarus that includes simplifying visa rules for persecuted people, support for independent media, scholarships for students and scientists from Belarus, and providing psychological assistance to victims. Merkel also expressed her admiration for the courageous Belarusians who have been fighting for democracy and freedom for six months. “However, the state knows only one response to peaceful demonstrations – violence. It seems, Belarus’s authorities reckon that the world will soon forget these brave people again. We should not allow this under any circumstances,” the Chancellor said.
From Belarus to Syria: soldiers are to serve, students are to study
According to the BYPOL initiative, in September 2021 about 600 Belarusian military personnel from the Special Forces of Belarus will go on a peacekeeping mission to Syria. They will be on patrol duties. The contractors are promised about $2,000 a month, which is several times less than the salaries of Russian and French peacekeeping forces for similar deployments. The Special Forces leadership has already begun recruiting conscripts for the peacekeeping mission, but it is unclear whether the soldiers will be able to make an independent choice or whether it will be a forced deployment. Russia, which is a partner of Belarus in the union state treaty, participates in the Syrian conflict. Russian supports the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad and supplies weapons to the government forces.
Journalist Serge Kharytonau wrote in his Telegram channel that experts from the Institute for the Study of War in Washington DC believe that the main purpose of sending Belarusian soldiers and officers to Syria is to legalize Russian military operations outside the Russian Federation and undermine the defense capabilities of Belarus. It’s concerning that the most professional officers of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, who could oppose the forceful scenario of “deep integration” of Belarus and Russia following joint exercises in the fall of 2021, are being squeezed out of Belarus.
Around the same time, Belarusian students were offered to go to Syria for free education, as mentioned on the social media page of the Belarusian State University. This message caused a wave of resentment and surprise among students, as the bloody civil war has been going on in Syria for several years.
Swedish schoolchildren wrote letters to Belarusian political prisoners
During a lesson in one of Stockholm schools, 9th-grade students discussed protests and protesters in Belarus. Impressed by the tragic events in Belarus, the children sent more than 100 letters to Belarusian political prisoners. Many students are shocked by how young many of the prisoners are. Their teacher Fredrik Sellerfors wrote about this.
European and International Federations of Journalists call for action in support of Belarusian colleagues
On the eve of the criminal trial against two journalists of the BELSAT TV channel Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova, who face up to 3 years in prison for the live coverage of the violent dispersal of a protest in Minsk, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) appealed to the international organizations and journalists’ unions to support Belarusian colleagues and help save independent journalism in the country. The European (EFJ) and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) supported this call.
For more information on the events of 6 February 2021, please visit Infocenter Free Belarus 2020: