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Protesters in Belarus Not Backing Down

Protests in Belarus began in May 2020 with the start of the presidential campaign. On Election Day, August 9, it was announced that Alexander Lukashenko won 80% of the votes and mass protests began throughout Belarus. Violent actions were used against protesters. There were reports of victims and missing people. According to "Nasha Niva" by the end of September, there were more than 13,000 arrests of protesters. Human rights activists say there has been two thousand complaints of torture.

On September 1, UN experts said they knew about 450 cases of torture and ill-treatment of protesters arrested in Belarus. They stated that “the Belarusian authorities must immediately stop all violations of human rights and put an end to this atmosphere of impunity” and called on the state to investigate cases of ill-treatment.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, human rights activist and politician, made an ultimatum to the Belarusian leadership. Her demands were the resignation of Lukashenko, the release of the prisoners, and the end of the violence. By October 25, these demands were not met and the opposition announced the beginning of a nationwide strike. Threats and tough measures for protesters are proving to be ineffective - they demand fair elections.

Official representatives from many countries, including France, Germany, UK, Poland, Norway, Canada and Ukraine, have stated that Belarus must hold a re-election. A couple of days ago, Belarus closed its borders with Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine. According to official data, borders were closed because of the pandemic in neighbouring countries. However, the borders with Russia were not closed. Was it done because of the pandemic or because of the ongoing protests inside the country?

Key Questions:

  1. Why are other countries urging a re-election for Belarus?

  2. What will happen to the relationships between Belarus and other countries if Alexander Lukashenko does not hold a re-election?

  3. Do you think the pressure from protesters will cause Lukashenko to listen to their demands?

  4. Do you think the treatment of protesters is justified?

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