Press Release | Fighting for democracy, one year on: JEF Europe stands with Belarus

Brussels, 29.05.2021

Key points:

  • JEF Europe joins the Global Picket of Solidarity with Belarus on 29 May 2021 marking one year of democratic protests in the country.
  • Lukashenka’s crackdown on democracy concerns us all because it violates our fundamental European values.
  • The EU should overcome its veto-ridden decision-making in foreign affairs to respond to the crisis more decidedly and offer more support to those fighting for European values in Belarus and elsewhere.

Responding to the call of Ms Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, JEF Europe is joining the Global Picket of Solidarity with Belarus on 29 May 2021. The date marks one year since the peaceful democratic protests started in the country following the imprisonment of presidential candidate Siarhei Tsikhanouski by the authoritarian regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Despite the wide-spread repression in the country and waning interests of the international media, Belarusians remain on the frontlines of the global fight for democracy, inspiring the rest of Europe to either join similar struggles at home or defend their existing freedoms. 

Expressing our solidarity in words and spreading the message is the least we can do as members of European civil society and advocates of a European democracy. We also invite our activists and all Europeans to write letters to Belarusian political prisoners as well as support dissidents financially via dedicated platforms, including BySol, A Country to Live In and #BY_help

By hijacking a civilian plane with 170 passengers to forcibly detain democratic activist Roman Protasevich and his partner Sofia Sapega, Lukashenka’s regime hit a new low in its desperate fight against freedom. This situation proves what we as JEF have been repeating with our #DemocracyUnderPressure campaign: threats to democracy anywhere cannot be disregarded as isolated cases but should be seen as acts of ideological war waged against all those who believe in human rights, either as activists or citizens simply enjoying their everyday freedoms, including the bystanders on Ryanair Flight 4978.

Although this recent act of state terrorism has caused international outrage and a promise of new EU sanctions, it is a mere tip of the iceberg of Lukashenka’s terror apparatus. Currently, there are more than 420 political prisoners in Belarus, many of them being deprived of their basic human rights and subjected to regular torture. While brutal repressions aimed at intimidating the society continue, they don’t seem to be able to break the spirit of Belarusians who simply want to determine their own future which is free from fear. 

Facing such a level of oppression at its very borders but also drawing inspiration from the steadfast struggle of Belarusians, the EU should break up with its veto-ridden decision-making in foreign affairs. Being able to react quickly and decidedly as one democratic force would allow us to send clearer warning to those who violate our fundamental values while also reassuring all Europeans fighting for democracy that the Union stands by them.

 

About JEF Europe

The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO with 10,000  members active in over 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.

 

JEF on Belarus and democracy in Europe 

 

Contact information

Christelle Savall, Executive Board Member

Young European Federalists

Rue d’Arlon 53, 1040 Brussels

christelle.savall@jef.eu