Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has proclaimed Sunday, 7 February as the Day of Solidarity with Belarus. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney T.D., and Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne T.D., are making a joint statement to mark this important international event.
Ireland is proud to join the many countries who will participate in expressing their solidarity with the Belarusian people, who continue to maintain their peaceful and determined defence of democratic principles since the fraudulent Presidential elections last August.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney T.D. reiterated Ireland’s condemnation of the violence seen in Belarus and highlighted the deep personal connections between the Irish people and the people of Belarus.
“Ireland’s support for the democratic rights and human rights of the people of Belarus is unequivocal and unwavering. We stand united with our EU and international partners in condemning the violence of the Lukashenko regime, which seeks to cling to power through an atmosphere of intimidation and fear.
Many Belarusian people have made Ireland their home over the years and have made welcome contributions to our society and our economy. I want to acknowledge the important role the Belarusian diaspora continues to play in keeping international attention on the appalling situation in the country of their birth. I also want to acknowledge the many Irish families who have opened their hearts and their homes over the decades to Belarusian children affected by the Chernobyl disaster. Building on these connections, Ireland stands firmly with the people of Belarus as they seek to defend their democratic rights.
A prosperous and free Belarus can only be achieved through a meaningful and inclusive national dialogue that leads to fresh elections that are free and fair. The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office has maintained the offer to facilitate such a dialogue and I again urge the authorities to grasp this opportunity.”
Minister of State Byrne drew attention to the appalling human rights situation in Belarus and called on the Belarusian authorities to reverse their course.
“Ahead of this day of solidarity, it is important we acknowledge that we are bound together through our mutual concern for the human rights of the Belarusian people. Despite daily harassment, indiscriminate detentions, curtailments of freedoms, internet shutdowns and heavy crackdowns on independent media, the Belarusian people have shown remarkable resilience and have rightly earned the admiration of all those who cherish democratic values.
I again call on the Belarusian authorities to stop the violence, repression and harassment of their people and to immediately, and unconditionally, release all those unjustly detained, including political prisoners. The credible allegations of human rights violations that have been made against members of the Belarusian security forces must be properly investigated and the authorities must take action to end the impunity they currently enjoy.
Ireland has been clear that the people of Belarus are the only ones with the right to determine the future direction of their country and we will continue to stand with them in realising this right.”
Minister Coveney and Minister of State Byrne have both spoken with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who was one of those children affected by the Chernobyl disaster who spent time in Ireland for respite and recuperation, and look forward to welcoming her back when public health conditions allow.
5 FEBRUARY 2021