21 May 2024, Tuesday, 19:36
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MEP: Lukashenka Must Face Trial

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MEP: Lukashenka Must Face Trial

Isabel Santos called for tougher sanctions against the Lukashenka regime.

MEP from Portugal Isabel Santos, the "godparent" of Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk, political prisoner and activist of the European Belarus Civil Campaign, called for increased pressure on the Lukashenka regime in an interview with Charter97.org.

– Belarusian political prisoner Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk is going through cruel mistreatments: never-ending "punishments" with solitary confinements, an additional prison term, mental health examination, no access to her lawyer, beating by other inmates – the list goes on and on. Why are they so exceptionally cruel to her?

– What is happening with Palina is the mirror of the extreme cruelty of this authoritarian dictatorial regime. To remind, Belarus has signed international treaties on human rights, its obligations are to be fulfilled. What is happening with human rights in Belarus is not acceptable and intolerable.

Palina is a young activist and brave and very courageous young woman, but also a mother of two small boys. The regime is depriving these two young boys of their mother, of her contribution to their growth and education.

We must fight against this. We need to be very strong in reacting to what is happening in Belarus. We need to be very vocal in denouncing the recent fake “elections” and this fake regime. Lukashenka is a puppet of Mr Putin.

In the European Parliament, I was the first one to include the name of Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk into the resolution, calling for the release of all political prisoners including the call for release of Palina. We will not stop fighting for Palina and for other prisoners, for their families who are also being persecuted.

It is really shameful that in the 21st century we still face the Lukashenka regime.

– Ms Santos, I have to say thank you very much indeed for being the "godmother" of Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk. Why do you think it is important to campaign on behalf of Belarusian political prisoners?

– It is always important to mobilize the opinion of the people around the world, raise awareness about what is occurring in Belarus, denounce this kind of case. I was born under dictatorship, during the Salazar regime. I know very well how important it was, the support of the European democratic countries to combat the dictatorship and come to a democracy.

With this experience and knowing very well the importance of raising awareness, I am always campaigning and I will remain campaigning for Palina and for other men and women who are in jail. Many are the victims of human rights abuses, of degrading inhuman treatment. Among them, there are persons who were killed. I will always raise awareness around the world, trying to defend them and call for their release.

– For the last 2 months, there has been no news about Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk: she has been kept in complete isolation, there are no letters, there is no information, her lawyer is denied access to her. How does it make you feel?

– Very angry! I am disturbed by what is happening. It is intolerable. We can not accept it. The family has the right to know what is happening with her.

The family has the right to have Palina with them living a normal life despite what she thinks about Lukashenka. No one has the right to do what Lukashenka is doing, depriving the family of Palina, these 2 kids of her presence and persecuting someone because they asked for democracy, for freedom for the people.

The international community needs to be very strong and very clear about this kind of things.

– Among Belarusian democratic forces there are calls to tighten sanctions against the Lukashenka regime in response to the cruel mistreatment of political prisoners. What is your take on that?

– My take is very clear. We need to raise the sanctions against Lukashenka and his proxies. It is very important that the international community show them that they really need to stop this. And they will stop this only in the moment when they have to fear the international community, when they feel on their skin the consequences of what they're doing to these good brave people who fight for freedom and democracy in Belarus.

And we need to support these people who are fighting. We need to support the families and we need also to raise awareness around the world about the fight against Lukashenka. Lukashenka must face a trial because of what he is doing in Belarus and also in Ukraine.

– What is your message to those Belarusians who are against the Lukashenka regime?

– It is always possible and we always need to fight against the authoritarian regime. We cannot tolerate them. We need to denounce them. We need to fight till the end — and it is possible to win this fight against the dictatorship

We [in Portugal] are celebrating this year the 50th anniversary of our revolution that gave us freedom and took us towards democracy. We are a good example that it is possible and that the democratic forces can win and that we can build an open modern society that has the guidance of European values: respect for human rights, democracy, development, tolerance and well-being.

It is also possible for Belarusians to overcome this period of dictatorship and build democratic, modern and strong society with European values.

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