“We want to get through to the walls”: Viasna solidarity actions at Belarusian embassy in Vilnius held on August 4
Viasna human rights defenders held an action of solidarity in front of the Belarusian embassy in Vilnius on August 4, 2022.
The place and date were not chosen by chance: In 2013, the first such action was held in front of the Belarusian embassy—to express solidarity with the imprisoned Viasna chairman Ales Bialiatski.Then, the protesters wore masks with his face on them.
Ales Bialiatski was detained on August 4, 2011. He was then sentenced to 4.5 years in jail for ‘concealing profits on a particularly large scale‘, but in fact, he was punished for his fight for human rights. This is why August 4 was chosen as the Day of Solidarity with civil society in Belarus.
Now Ales Bialiatski is behind bars again. And along with him are six more members of Viasna.
“In 2013, activists and human rights defenders came out to protest with a poster ‘We are all Ales’. And today We are all Valiantsin. We are all Uladzimir. We are all Marfa. We are all Tatsiana. We are all Ales. We are all Leanid. And we are all Andrei,” noted during the action Dziyana Pinchuk, a representative of Viasna.
“It is symbolic that on this day there is such an action. Only not with just one portrait of Bialiatski. Alas, we already have a lot of prisoners here,” said Viasna human rights defender Siarhei Sys. “We want to get through to the walls on the other side, to reach out the ambassadors who are certainly watching our action and are certainly recording it.”
Thirty journalists are currently imprisoned, 880 third-sector organizations have been liquidated, hundreds have been imprisoned, and thousands more have been forced out of the country. It is almost impossible for NGO representatives to work inside the country without facing the risk of going to prison.
“The Day of Solidarity with Civil Society remains of a big relevance as long as the situation of the civil society in Belarus does not improve,” Dziyana Pinchuk said. “So today we are here to express solidarity with our imprisoned colleagues, journalists and all political prisoners, to remind the Belarusian authorities of our demands to release them, and to remind the international and Belarusian community that our fight is not over. Viasna is and will be here until the last political prisoner goes out of jail and justice is restored.”