Belarusian Opposition Protests in PraguePrague, Feb. 14 - About 20 young people with historical Belarusian flags and banners featuring opposition representatives Tatiana Shaputska and Auhien Afnahel staged a rally protesting the persecution of democratic youth organizations in Belarus yesterday.
The protest action was staged by the movement ”Young Revival” from the Belarusian People's Front that disagrees with policies of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenka.
According to Raman Kavalchuk, chairman of the ”Young Revival,” young representatives of opposition in Belarus were targets of various types of reprisals and intimidation.
The protesters waved an English-language banner with words Stop Political Terror and Political Expulsions of Students in Belarus.
The event expressed solidarity with the rally ”I Love Belarus” in Minsk, held by the Young Revival on St Valentine's Day since the 1990s.
The EU has imposed sanctions on Lukashenka's regime in Belarus over its authoritarian practices
. The Czech Republic has been among vocal critics of Lukashenka's regime for years. It has been granting scholarships for Belarusian students, including those disagreeing with the existing regime that has expelled them from universities in Belarus.
Excerpts from the distributed leaflet:
We gathered here today to express our strong support of young democratic leaders who are being persecuted by the regime of Alaksandar Luka¹enka, Belarus´ illegitimate head of state. We defend our nations right for a sovereign country in a free Europe, we defend our language, national identity, traditions and culture, now decimated by Belarus´ current authorities. The Young Front organization stages every year on St. Valentine´s Day a rally “I love Belarus´!” on central avenues of Miensk, Belarus´capital city. Today we are expressing our solidarity with this rally
. In December, 2009 Tatsyana Shaputska deputy chairperson and press secretary of the Young Front, was expelled from the Belarusan State University due to her participation in the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership in Brussels. This fact is outrageous even considering the usual practice of expelling politically active students from Belarusan universities. The Eastern Partnership is an initiative of the European Union, officially accepted by Belarusan government. Alongside with government institutions, civil society representatives were invited to participate in this initiative.
Auhien Afnahel, one of the leaders of “European Belarus” civil campaign, was kidnapped by an unknown masked commando on December 6, 2009. According to him, he was seized by four masked men on Bialinski Street in Minsk in the evening of December 6. He was forced into a white car with tinted windows and taken out of the city; the kidnappers didn´t say a word. Auhien Afnahel was forced to sit with his head between his knees and was discharged on a country road few kilometers from Barysau highway.
Recently KGB men kidnapped youth leaders Zmitser Dashkevich, chairman of Young Front, Nasta Palazhanka, deputy chairperson of Young Front, Artur Finkevich, chairman of the movement “Young Belarus” and Uladzimer Lemiesh, an activist of “European Belarus” civic campaign.
In all these cases young democratic opposition leaders were kidnapped by unknown masked commandos, using police walkie-talkies.
The young people were taken to the forest, threatened with a simulated execution and ordered to stop their political activities. Then the activists were taken to a place around fifty miles from Minsk and abandoned there.
This article appeared in
Belarusian Review, Vol. 22, No. 1
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