viasna on patreon

Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners of Belarus: demonstrations held all over the world

2024 2024-05-23T13:03:10+0300 2024-05-23T13:03:11+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On the third anniversary of the death of political prisoner and activist Vitold Ashurak in Škloŭ colony No. 17, Belarusians all over the world celebrated the Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners of Belarus on May 21. Viasna human rights activists initiated this tradition. This year, more than 30 different events and demonstrations happened in different countries of the world. They began on May 19th and will take place for several more days. Viasna reports how Belarusians expressed solidarity with those who are now behind bars and with those who will not return from there. Detailed information about all the events dedicated to the Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners of Belarus can be found on the website

May 21

A solidarity action dedicated to the Day of the Political Prisoner took place in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

Local Belarusians arranged a bike ride with white-red-white paraphernalia and flags.

The Belarusian Youth Hub in Warsaw celebrated the Day of the Political Prisoner.

A Marathon of Letters took place there: activists wrote words of support to those behind bars. In return, one could receive gifts, among which were tote bags and T-shirts from Dissidentby.

"Of course, we prepared in advance and our volunteers wrote letters in advance. We are organizing this event together with other initiatives that are engaged in protecting the rights of political prisoners. And in writing letters as well," said Alena Panamarova, moderator of the event.
In Warsaw, the offline event lasted for 3 hours.

A meeting dedicated to political prisoners was also held at the Belarusian House in Warsaw. The organizers of the event spoke there: Yauheniya Dolhaya, the founder of the Politvyazynka initiative, and Ales Zarembiuk, the head of the institution. Former prisoners also shared their experiences and thoughts.

Miya Mitkevich was among the participants.The woman was sentenced to 3 years in a penal colony, served her sentence, and was released a year ago. The ex-political prisoner spoke about what she felt during the meeting:

"Pain, because after six months you seem to let go of the situation, but it doesn't go away. After all, you still think about the girls there, about how they feel. I understand that each of them may actually end up in the same situation as me. And it's really scary. After all, a woman should not go through what we all go through. It hurts because it's scary."

A demonstration of solidarity with political prisoners was held in Vilnius on May 21.

More than a hundred people gathered in the Cathedral Square. Performances and singing alternated with speeches by politicians, former political prisoners, and human rights activists.

Photo by Radio Svaboda

During the demonstration in the Lithuanian capital, a petition to the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry was read, and all participants of the event were invited to sign it. The document for the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry urges to join the demands of Belarusians and send an appeal to the illegitimate authorities of Belarus calling for the release of political prisoners.

A solidarity rally was held in Zurich, Switzerland, on the occasion of the Day of Political Prisoners.

Among the participants of the action are former political prisoners, members of the Belarusian-Swiss association RAZAM, and human rights defenders from the Swiss branch of Libereco.

A solidarity action took place in Bialystok, timed to coincide with the Day of the Political Prisoner.

It took place near the Consulate of Belarus.

Viasna human rights defenders in Vilnius held an open recording of Spring Will Come podcast. 

"We want to help political prisoners preserve their health and, together with professional doctors and lawyers, as well as with people who have survived Belarusian prisons, find answers to the most pressing questions for political prisoners," the organizers say.

May 20

Belarusians of Scotland have set up flags with the names of all Belarusian political prisoners.

This was done on the occasion of the Day of Political Prisoners.

Photos of dead political prisoners appeared near the Belarusian embassy in Moscow

Portraits of Vitold Ashurak, Mikalai Klimovich, and Ales Pushkin appeared last night near the embassy building.

It is reported that a Russian citizen wanted to honor the memory of the dead Belarusian political prisoners with her speech, but the police did not allow her to do so.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: "We cannot be silent even for a day"

The democratic leader of Belarus published an appeal on the occasion of the Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners. Her appeal was published by Nasha Niva.

"Today is a day that resonates with pain in the heart of each of us. I can't just say the words "political prisoner": I want to scream it out of pain and anger. Pain, because there are at least one and a half thousand of such prisoners in the country today. Almost as many have passed through prisons, torture, humiliation, and have already returned to freedom. But with ruined health and lost years of life. I am filled with anger because the persecution continues and people are taken hostage. Through the desire to kill freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, the regime oppresses the people.

We tried to do a lot to change the situation, both publicly and not publicly. But the regime has no interest in releasing political prisoners. For Lukashenka, people are just expendable material that has no value. That is why six prisoners have already died behind bars.

Every day we must look for opportunities to free our relatives and friends from prisons. And while they are incarcerated, we must support them, and each of us must do this. We are the voice of Belarusian political prisoners, and we cannot remain silent for a single day. We can be tired and confused by what is happening around us. But people behind bars sacrifice every day of their lives for a free Belarus. And today we are their voice and their hope. We have no right to let our heroes down."

Belarusians of Belgium, despite all the threats of the regime, took part in a rally in the heart of Europe on May 20 to remind about the fate of our political prisoners and express support for those who are behind bars only because they want a better life for the Belarusian people.

After the event, traditionally, at the Mission of Democratic Belarus in Brussels, Belarusians of Belgium wrote postcards to those political prisoners who celebrate their birthday in May and others.

Uladzimir Astapenko, Deputy Representative for Foreign Affairs of the Cabinet, head of the Mission of Democratic Belarus in Brussels, also took part in the event.

Turin, Italy.

On May 20, the opening of the exhibition of Ksisha Anhelava, an artist who talks about political prisoners in the language of art, took place in Turin. Until May 24, almost 400 portraits of Belarusian prisoners can be seen in the National Student Library of Turin.

The opening of the exhibition was attended by Rosanna Purchia, the president of the Fondazione Luigi Firpo Vincenzo Ferrone Association, responsible for culture in the Turin administration, artist Ksisha Anhelava, former political prisoner Asia Bulybenka, and the president of the Talaka Association Yuliya Yukhno. 

"This is Ksisha's first exhibition in Italy! We are very happy with the event and grateful to everyone who came to support us!", the organizers report.

May 19

An interactive open-air exhibition entitled Mury (Walls) opened in the center of Warsaw on May 19, near the Copernicus monument. Photos of Belarusian political prisoners were placed on a stylized wire.

The portraits were approached, among others, by guests of Warsaw, who examined and photographed the portraits.

The event was attended by former political prisoners who recently left Belarus. They spoke about the harsh conditions of detention and torture. At the end of the event, Belarusian artist Yana Shostak showed her famous performance A Minute of Screaming.

Rome. The Belarusian diaspora in Italy held a rally dedicated to the Day of the Political Prisoner.

The rally was organized by the People's Embassy of Belarus in Italy, and it was attended by politicians from the political parties Fratelli d'Italia, Partito democratico, Più Europa, candidate for the European Parliament Volha Surynava, as well as representative of the People's Embassy Yuliya Yukhno.

Together with our colleagues, we shared the stories of Belarusian political prisoners and once again spoke of our struggle.

Belarusians of Great Britain gathered for a solidarity rally with political prisoners in Parliament Square, London.

"The main thing is to save your health." May 21 is the Day of Political Prisoners

On May 21, Viasna calls on to express solidarity with all political prisoners and once again demand the regime to release them.

Latest news