Time to save our leaders. 21 October at 19.00 – A rally of solidarity with political prisoners

Ten months have passed since the crackdown on the protests against the rigged presidential elections.

All this time we have seen the consequences of the authorities having chosen the option of using force as a solution to the problem, instead of negotiating with the opposition that had won the elections. In Belarus there is a political and economic crisis; the repression and persecution of opponents of the regime are continuing. The Government is so afraid of its people that it has initiated the adoption of new laws, by which the security services are free at any time to break into our houses, maim and kill Belarusians.

The only way out of this situation is the immediate release of political prisoners. Only after that can we talk about the search for ways out of the crisis.

Today the presidential candidates Andrei Sannikov and Nikolai Statkevich, the opposition leaders Dmitrii Bondarenko and Dmitrii Dashkevich, the human rights activist Ales Belyatskii, the businessman Nikolai Avtukhovich and youth activists remain behind bars. Other participants of the peaceful rally on 19 December last year, who have been sentenced to “restricted liberty” or to probation, are also continuing to serve their punishments.

On many of them, an unprecedented pressure was exerted by the prison authorities to force an admission of guilt and write a petition for pardon in the name of the dictator. Andrei Sannikov and and Dmitri Dashkevich have practically been murdered in prison.

We know that there is only place where we can be heard: on the streets of Belarusian cities. We therefore call upon those who support change and who care about the fate of Belarusian political prisoners to come to October Square in Minsk on 21 October at 19.00 with their placards, and residents of other areas to go to their central squares.

We once again demand from the authorities the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience, an end to their torture, and their rehabilitation.

We also ask the authorities of European countries to exert maximum pressure on the dictator, to get him to release political prisoners and instead of increasing repression to start looking for ways out of crisis.

Remember, there are people behind bars, for which we voted in the election, our leaders. They are in prison because they fought and continue to fight for us. It’s time for us to go out to protect them, to save their lives!