Gallery: Vabaduse väljak demonstration in support of Belarus

A demonstration in Vabaduse väljak in Tallinn took place Thursday afternoon, expressing support for Belarusian people after elections in Belarus were followed by a violent suppression of peaceful protests in which, among 7,000 others, an Estonian citizen was also detained.

The organizers of the demonstration explained that Belarusians around the world are standing up for their rights, their country and for the freedom of political prisoners.

"This demonstration is to support Belarusians because our voice and right of opinion have been taken from us. Our brothers and sisters are standing up for our freedom. We wish the world would turn their attention to what is happening in Belarus and we call on Estonians to stand with us in solidarity."

Andrei Abozau, activist and former political prisoner, said: "We expect actual support, not words, but solidarity. Actual actions. We need sanctions for [Alexander] Lukashenko to leave power. Our activists, who are in pain in Belarusian prisons, need help. We need help for everyone living in Belarus because the people have protested enough. Everyone is protesting, young and old. We need help and actual solidarity."

Siim Tuisk, an Estonian protester, said: "30 years ago we were all alone and noone in the West cared how or what the situation here was. And it feels like they're (Belarusians - ed.) in the exact same situation now, noone from the outside is interested. And if they can, dare, manage, then some solutions are possible. And we've gathered here to show they're not alone."

After elections in Belarus on Sunday, August 9, large protests have been held in the city to demonstrate dissatisfaction against the sixth term of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The Belarusian Central Election Commission said the results of the election showed Lukashenko, who has been in office since 1994, received 80.23 percent of the total votes with opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya winning only 9.9 percent. The results sparked protests across Belarus on Sunday night which saw clashes between police and protesters.

An exit poll conducted in Tallinn and 25 major cities in Europe showed large-scale support for opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya among Belarusians living in Estonia, further legitimizing suspicions of vote-rigging.

On August 11, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Vyacheslav Kachanov, the Ambassador of Belarus to the Republic of Estonia, to account in regard to the violent suppression of protests following the elections.

On August 12, the foreign ministers of eight Baltic and Nordic countries issued a joint statement condemning the violent suppression of protests after Lukashenko secured his sixth term as president of Belarus.

On the same day, the chairs of the foreign affairs committees of the Parliaments of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland also called on Belarusian authorities to release all political prisoners as well as those illegitimately detained in the wake of the recent presidential elections in that country, and to initiate a social dialogue for much-expected changes. The full statement can be read here.

On August 13, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) announced that Belarusian authorities have detained an Estonian citizen during the crackdown on protests.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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