Statement By Secretary Antony J. Blinken
May 20, 2023
On the eve of the Day of Solidarity with Belarusian Political Prisoners, we condemn the Lukashenka regime in Belarus for unjustly holding over 1,500 political prisoners.
These men and women have been arrested and incarcerated for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms in pursuit of Belarusian democracy, for protesting a fraudulent election, or for opposing Russia’s war against Ukraine. Many of their trials were held behind closed doors, shielded from public scrutiny or accountability. Their families, friends, coworkers, and others live every day with the thought of their loved ones suffering in jail. Recently, Belarusian authorities have resorted to shutting off any contact with the outside world for political prisoners like Viktar Babaryka, Syarhey Tsikhanouski, Mikalai Statkevich, Maria Kalesnikava, Maksim Znak, Ales Bialiatski, and Ihar Losik. For many, their families and legal representatives have been unable for several months to communicate with them or to confirm where they are being held. Sadly, most political prisoners’ names are not well known.
The United States stands with the people of Belarus as they seek a future based on the rule of law, respect for human rights, and an accountable, democratically elected government. We reiterate our strong desire to see the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners held by the Lukashenka regime, and we call on Belarus to meet its international legal obligations, as well as its commitments as a participating State of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The United States is committed to promoting accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations in Belarus and to raising the costs associated with their abuses, including by imposing visa restrictions and sanctions.