A year after the Minsk crisis, what has changed in Belarus?
MINSK, BELARUS — One year ago, the center of Minsk was overflowing with people protesting presidential elections that were seen as rigged. Activists draped in white-red-and-white Belarusian nationalist flags were chanting “Freedom for Belarus” and claiming their voices matter.
When the police intervened, nearly 7,000 were arbitrarily arrested, thrown into police vehicles, abused, denied food and water, and held for days in suffocating overcrowded cells. Hundreds were beaten and tortured. We watched it all in horror, disturbed by the violence and brutality against people whose only crime was gathering peacefully and daring to speak out.
Our head of Students For Liberty in Belarus and civil rights activist, Piotr Markiełaŭ, was one of them. He campaigned for a free Belarus for years and was arrested four times doing so under the current regime.
“Lukashenko is propagating terror in Belarus and abroad. I think it’s great that the international community has made not just strong statements, but took real action. Lukashenko and his regime have to understand this will have severe consequences. They might not necessarily lead to a quick change in the country, but these measures are imperative,” — said Piotr Markiełaŭ.
A year after the stolen electoral victory, the Belarusian government continues to use violence and intimidation against its opponents at home and abroad to cling to power. The regime is now rooting out the few remaining independent media workers and NGOs.
Meanwhile, many grassroots communities of medical professionals, journalists, and human rights defenders have been created in Belarus over the past year to support those who have suffered from state-sanctioned violence.
At Students For Liberty, we believe defiance from both young and old is a sign of hope for Belarus. We stand with the Belarusian people unconditionally in their aspirations for a free, democratic, and prosperous future and support their call for the regime to end the violence and respect their fundamental freedoms.
In order to shed light on the dictator’s control and the repression of the Belarusian people, we invite Students For Liberty activists and advocates for civil rights in Belarus for an online discussion on Thursday, August 12, 2021, at 2 PM EDT (20:00 CEST).
Belarus: 1 Year Later Explained. Follow Learn Liberty on YouTube to get a notification when the event is live.
Learn more about the situation in Belarus and what led to it in our Learn Liberty documentary, Belarus Dictatorship, Explained.
Accredited members of the media can arrange interviews with Piotr Markiełaŭ by contacting Students For Liberty’s Public Relations Strategist Mariam Gogolishvili at [email protected] or by phone at +995557 116661
Students For Liberty is a rapidly growing network of pro-liberty students from all over the world. Our mission is to educate, develop, and empower the next generation of leaders of liberty. We are the largest pro-liberty student organization in the world. We accomplish this through a strategy of empowerment, identifying the top student leaders, and training them to be agents of change in their communities