A press-conference of former Belarusian political prisoners and the wife of Mikalai Statkevich took place in Warsaw.
In the press-conference at the Belarusian House in Warsaw took place a member of European Parliament, member of the EP’s delegation for connections with Belarus Marek Migalski, the wife of the political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich Maryna Adamovich, former political prisoners – coordinators of the European Belarus civic campaign Dzmitry Bandarenka and Aliaksandr Atroshchankau, the editor of the charter97.org web-site Natalia Radzina.
Starting the press-conference the European Parliament member Marek Migalski stated:
“The date of today’s meeting is not random. Today is the second anniversary of the 19 December action’s crackdown. We s the strive of Belarusians for freedom, we saw them in the squares in Minsk and other cities, but later we saw the brutal crackdown of these protests by the authorities. First there was hope, later – desperation. We were shocked since at first the dictator allow several competitors to participate (although it was not an even competition), and then he arrested practically all of them. The modern world has not known anything like that before. It is a sad record of Belarus’ in world politics.
And these two years were lost for Belarus and for Europe. We are observing unsuccessful efforts of the European Union to help the Belarusian nation in some way. We are seeing a series of losses on the part of the EU, which is unable to develop a single unified strategy line towards Belarus, unable to even reach a joint opinion. All the political prisoners must be immediately released. But some unclear bargaining with Lukashenka starts on the topic who should be released and who not. Yes, several political prisoners were released, but we must remember, that there are still prisoners of conscience in the inhumane conditions of prisons”.
A former political prisoner Aliaksandr Atroshchankau called, first of all, for solidarity with Belarusian political prisoners:
“We know how hard it is to be a political prisoner in Belarus. Political prisoners are not only an ordeal for their families, they are an ordeal for the whole country. Patriots and heroes are the main heritage of any country. Not a single country has thousands of Statkevichs, Autukhovichs and Dashkevichs. The way, in which a country protects its political prisoners, determines its future. Everyone must show solidarity. From my own experience I can tell, that the words “Hold on!” from a simple person mean more than dozens of the European Union’s declarations. Everyone can support a political prisoner, send a letter or a postcard, help his family. Politicians must keep a principled position and do not bargain with their conscience, not bargain with the authorities. The solidarity rules are simple and they save lives”.
The wife of the political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich Maryna Adamovich noted that the Belarusian authorities “only understand force and consolidated position”:
“Today is exactly two years that the prisoners of conscience have spent in captivity. Solidarity helped to release many participants of those events, but imprisoned still remain Mikalai Statkevich, Dzmitry Dashkevich, Eduard Lobau, Pavel Seviarynets is deprived of freedom. But there are political prisoners apart from them. Today twelve people are considered political prisoners. Unfortunately, our authorities only understand force and a strong consolidated position. Not extending sanctions in October this year led to changing the imprisonment regime for a stricter one for two more political prisoners. Altogether already five prisoners of conscience have been transferred from colonies to prisons. Yesterday Dzmitry Dashkevich must have been released. He could have already been home, but the prison term was extended for him. Almost the whole two terms of imprisonment he spent in a single cell, spent half a year in a lock-up alone. Only international and human solidarity can stop these repressions”, — the wife of Mikalai Statkevich said.
Dzmitry Bandarenka compared the situation in Belarus to the times of the martial law in Warsaw:
“The anniversary of the introduction of martial law was recently celebrated in Warsaw. 19 December in Belarus is the date which is very similar to 13 December in Poland. The Poles had lived with communists in power for a long time, then certain thaw came, the Solidarity movement arose, but on 13 December 1981 the martial law was introduced and since then the history of Poland went differently. I would like to remind that the ministers of a number of the European Union countries, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, made a statement that the results of the elections were rigged in Belarus and there must have been the second round. Lukashenka barely had 40% of the votes. Andrei Sannikau must have made it to the second round. This means that out of seven million voters in Belarus at least 3.5 million voted for democratic candidates.
That is why Lukashenka went for such brutal repressions, since he knew the real state of play. Legal political activity is practically impossible today in Belarus. There is a discussion in the Belarusian oppositional community over what to do next. And many people say that we should today use the methods which the Polish Solidarity used in the 80-ies. The ways of support for the democratic parties in Belarus on the part of the civilized countries should be similar to those for Poland at the times. We are observing lukashenkization of Russia today, lukashenkization of Ukraine, revival of the Russian Empire. The Belarusian dictatorship is not only the problem of the Belarusian nation. It is a serious international problem. You can see the passive attitude of the EU towards Belarus. There is the same passive attitude towards Syria, where around 40 thousand people died already. The EU should have a new policy towards all of its neighbors”.
The editor of the charter97.org web-site Natalia Radzina noted, that the EU still does not have a policy towards Belarus like it did not have one before.
“We will be able to talk about a EU’s policy on Belarus if there is real support for democratic movements and economic sanctions against the dictatorship. So far there is nothing of that. 19 December 2010 – is a breaking point in the modern history of Belarus. The country has never seen such massive and brutal repressions before. Large number of Belarusians had to flee the country. The Charter’97 web-site is grateful to Poland which helped us to organize the work from abroad after the repressions that we suffered on the eve and after the presidential elections: arrests, searches and the murder of the web-sites founder. But Poland alone is not able to help the whole Belarusian opposition. But it can mobilize other EU countries to develop a strategy and support for Belarus”, — the journalist pointed out.
When responding to the question about the new policy of Poland on Belarus, Marek Migalski told about the recent consideration of a statement on Ales Bialiatski’s arrest:
“Usually we together with the European Parliament members from the ruling Polish party Civic Platform act in as a united front on Belarus. Last week the European Parliament heard the report by the MEP Leonidas Donskis on human rights and there was a piece where we are expressing a concern over the actions of some Polish and Lithuanian officials who have something to do with the arrest of Bialiatski. Can you imagine, the Civic Platform voted against that. We together with Pavel Kawal voted in favor. If it was the matter of condemning the Polish state, I would have thought about it, but it was only a concern over the actions of some officials. So first we tell lofty things about solidarity with Belarusian opposition and then in the EP we do not even support the soft from of the declaration. This makes us ridiculous. What only harms Poland is that Polish officials cooperate with the Belarusian dictatorship”.