Appeal of the relatives of political prisoners and former political prisoners
Since 2020, Belarus has experienced the most massive political repression since its independence had been claimed. At the moment, there are about 1,500 people recognized by human rights activists as political prisoners in places of detention. But even this terrible figure does not reflect the true scale of terror. Human rights defenders are unable to gather all the information about the repression, and prisoners themselves and their relatives are often afraid to talk about what is happening to them, fearing retaliation by the security forces. Meanwhile, according to official data, in 2.5 years alone more than 11.5 thousand criminal cases related to politics were opened.

Political prisoners face bullying, humiliation and blackmail in the jails. They are restricted in their correspondence, deprived of visits and parcels, and thrown into punishment cells. The yellow tags sewn on their clothes and hard forced labor in the colonies are the punishment for those who desire to live in a free society in Belarus. Every day and every hour spent behind bars is torture for political prisoners and their relatives.

We regret to say that not enough is being done today to free our relatives. The events of recent years in Belarus are often compared to war and occupation. But even in times of war, the war prisoners have the opportunity to return home. We all can see it in Ukraine: during the conflict hundreds of Ukrainians were released from enemy captivity as a result of negotiations and exchanges. Negotiations on the release of prisoners had no effect on Ukraine's determination to fight the aggressor until all occupied territories are completely liberated — on the contrary, the return of heroes only strengthens public morale. As for us in Belarus, over the past 2.5 years we have witnessed only sporadic cases of release of political prisoners. On the one hand, this shows that the current approaches are ineffective. On the other hand, it proves that it is not impossible to save prisoners of the regime.

We consider the release of ALL political prisoners and the FULL cessation of repression in Belarus a task that cannot be questioned under any circumstances. However, the ways of solving this task may vary. Each freed political prisoner is already a small victory which brings us closer to the main goal. If there is an opportunity to save at least one person today, we must do it. And tomorrow we will drag out of the dungeons those whom today it was impossible to make free.

The fate of Europe is being decided on the battlefields of Ukraine nowadays. But opposing Russian aggression does not make the problem of political prisoners in Belarus any less important — in both cases it is about protecting universal human values. We call on the leaders of the free world to act more decisively for the release of political prisoners, including negotiation processes and both public and non-public efforts. We, in turn, are ready to take an active part in developing new approaches, tactics and strategies.

So far, 91 signatures have been collected.

The initiative group includes:
Tatsiana Khomich, sister of Maria Kalesnikava
Aliaksandr Loika, husband of Iryna Slaunikava
Sviatlana Matskevich, wife of Uladzimir Matskevich

Volha Ivashyna, wife of Dzianis Ivashyn

The letter can be signed both publicly and non-publicly, you can do it through contact on Telegram: @Freepolitzek

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