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Repression in Belarus Focus of Upcoming Helsinki Commission Hearing

WASHINGTON—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today announced the following hearing:

SEEKING JUSTICE AND FREEDOM IN BELARUS

Tuesday, September 21, 2021
2:30 p.m.
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Room 419

Watch live: www.youtube.com/HelsinkiCommission

More than a year has passed since mass protests against the fraudulent election of Alexander Lukashenko shook Belarus. In the meantime, Lukashenko and his illegitimate regime cling to power by committing ever more serious acts of repression against advocates of democracy and free expression. Hundreds of political prisoners languish in pre-trial detention or have been sentenced to years in prison during closed trials. The regime has effectively criminalized independent journalism and peaceful assembly; no independent justice system exists to hold those in power accountable.

As Lukashenko lashes out at the West—even engineering the forced landing of an EU flight to abduct a journalist and sending overwhelming numbers of migrants into the EU via Belarus—the exiled leader of democratic Belarus, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, has been engaging the world on her country’s behalf, calling for new elections, the release of political prisoners, and accountability for the repressive regime.

Expert witnesses will provide updates on the current situation in Belarus, including the state of media, the plight of political prisoners, the international legal ramifications of Lukashenko’s violence, and U.S. policy responses and options.

The following witnesses are scheduled to testify:

  • Serge Kharytonau, Media Expert, International Strategic Action Network for Security (iSANS)
  • Tatsiana Khomich, Coordination Council Representative for political prisoners, Viktar Babaryka Team Coordinator, and sister of political prisoner Maria Kalesnikava
  • David J. Kramer, Senior Fellow, Florida International University
  • Siarhej Zikratski, Representative on Legal Affairs, Office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

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