President urges Belarus regime to free political prisoners, end repression

President Alar Karis.
President Alar Karis. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

President of the Republic of Estonia Alar Karis has issued a statement in support of prisoners of conscience and other repressed persons suffering in Belarus under the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, whose reelection for a sixth consecutive term in August 2020 has been followed by a brutal crackdown on dissent within the country, the hijacking of a Ryanair airliner in order to arrest one opposition member, and the current human trafficking which has resulted in the migration crisis on the Belarus-EU border.

The statement follows in its entirety.

Unfortunately, the serious human rights violations in Belarus are receiving less and less attention. We must not forget or overlook the repression and persecution of civil society representatives, the political trials, the destruction of civil society and the free media in Belarus. It is admirable that many active Belarusians continue to be determined to stand up for democratic values ​​and to defy all the repression that befalls them.

This requires courage, because all those who think differently in Belarus face forceful actions from the regime, and even criminal charges and imprisonment.

We must not forget that even among those Belarusians who still have their freedom, there are thousands whose rights have been restricted, who have had to suffer through sentencing or have been forced into exile. We appreciate and support the fight of the Belarusian opposition in exile.

It is deeply unfortunate and sad that today there are close to 900 political prisoners held in a European country. I call on the Belarusian regime to release political prisoners and to respect the will of their people, and to see the need for change in their country.

My thoughts are with all the brave people who stand up for democratic values ​​and suffered repressions because of it. I wish fortitude for them and their loved ones. Estonia, like the entire EU, will continue to support them and put pressure on the Belarusian regime to end this intolerable situation.

History has shown that no crimes go unpunished, some crimes do not expire, and the responsibility lies with all those who carry out repression.

I suggest you look in the mirror and think about when humanity and honesty, both for yourself and for others, departed from you.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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