15 October 2021, Friday, 23:00
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Iryna Khalip: “I am happy he had chosen me out of all women in the world” (Audio)

Iryna Khalip: “I am happy he had chosen me out of all women in the world” (Audio)

The final statement of Iryna Khalip was made before Andrei Sannikov.

The prosecutor demanded to sentence the journalist and wife of the presidential candidate to 2 years of imprisonment with execution of sentence suspended for 2 years. The judgment is to be delivered on May 16.

We offer the audio transcript of Iryna Khalips’ statement in the court.

High Court!

All these days while the public trial was underway, I was trying to understand one thing: why three of us have found ourselves on the same prisoners’ dock. The fact is I did not know Syarhei Martsaleu (I am happy we are acquainted already). I have known Paval Sevyarynets for many years, and I know that he is one of the kindest, cleverest and talented people of all I have ever met in my life. The problem is, we all represented interests of different candidates, and have not met during the election campaign at all.

So why are we here, properly speaking? Maybe it is so because all of us marched along the traffic area together? At least, for all the period of the court proceedings, with an art worthy of a better cause, the public prosecutor had been proving one thing: we came out into the traffic area. Yes, we came out to the traffic area. This thing did not need to be proved at all, as we have not been denying that. But we were there as a part of 40 thousand strong column of people, marching in the same way as us. What does it mean? Maybe we have been chosen out of all people in the column by chance? I mean, we were some accidental people. And if we had not been there, some other people, snatched out from the crowd, could sit on the dock instead of us, could they? In such a case, I am happy that we are on the dock, as, believe me, I would not wish on my worst enemy, to be in my place.

The regime used scorched-earth tactics against my family. They wanted to crash us completely, for not a drop of blood to be left after us. It could not be a mere accident. It means that everything going on here is not an accident, but a consistent pattern. And it means that the three of us had not been selected at random, but consciously. What do we have in common?

It could be our being used to speak aloud the words which are whispered by others in their kitchens, while their phone set is hidden under a pillow like in the 1970ies. And the fact that we are reading the Constitution attentively, and demand our constitutional rights and freedoms to be respected, we are shouting: “You must give us an opportunity to gather, to have our say. We have a right for freedom of expression, for freedom of meetings and marches,” while we are told for many years: “No, guys, you are wrong. The Constitution is like money, some people have it and some not. If you would join “Belaya Rus” association, you would have constitutional rights and freedoms, but you do not have them, simply because you are different, not like all others, your blood is green and your head has screws.”

But the tragedy is, we are the same as everyone. We do not have heads with screws. We have red blood like anyone else, and we have the same rights and freedoms as all other citizens of the Republic of Belarus. We want, we dream to exercise them very much, and we are trying to do that. That is why we are thrown into prisons, that is why we stand trials, that is why we are separated from our families. That is the reason I could not even see my husband Andrei Sannikov in the court, though we are involved in the same criminal case. But we stand trial in different courts, and I am not sure that we would be able to see each other at all.

By the way, speaking about Andrei Sannikov. Here in the court I was to answer the question: have you stepped into the traffic area as a journalist or as a wife? And I answered then: undoubtedly, as Andrei’s wife. On the same evening, after the court proceeding, I sat and started thinking: well, what was my main role there on December 19 on the Square? Was it professional duty, or more a family duty, or a duty of a citizen? And today I can answer: it was 100% of the first, the second and the third at the same time.

Rain or shine, I will always remain a journalist. I will always remain Andrei Sannikov’s wife, and I am happy he had chosen me out of all the women in the world. And finally, I will always remain a citizen of Belarus, if I would not be evicted and deprive of citizenship certainly, as it was done in the Soviet Union. However, I keep hoping for the best, as it is a feature of a human.

Yesterday my mother told me: “Ira, if you would be imprisoned again, I would not tell lies to your son any more, I would not tell his mother is on a business trip. I will tell him the truth. The truth about the wicked guys who had seized mum and daddy, and about one especially wicked fellow. About all the wicked fellows who live in this country, on this land.”

I think that even if I would not be imprisoned, as I am still hoping for that, it’s the time for the boy to learn the truth. He must know at last in what kind of a country, in what kind of society and in what family and personal situation he has to live.