“Our country is going through a difficult time, which, unfortunately, is being marked by bloodshed and by the thousands of civilians who have been arrested and brutally beaten who want to know the truth about the presidential elections of August 9”.
With these words, the President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Belarus and Archbishop of Minsk, Monsignor Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, opened a speech last Friday addressed to President Alexander Lukashenko, to the state authorities of Belarus and to all those who exercise power on different levels in the country.
“God created us free. The truth makes us truly free, says Christ. People have the right to know the truth, which cannot be sacrificed to please someone’s political or opportunistic interests”, said the Minsk metropolitan.
That was a preamble to a heartfelt description of the dramatic scenes that have kept thousands of Belarusians on the streets since 9 August in protest against the announcement that Lukashenko was returned to power amid accusations of vote rigging and after 26 years already as president.
“The bloodshed in the streets of our cities, the beatings of people who have taken part in peaceful demonstrations because they want to know the truth, the cruel treatment and inhumane detention are a grave sin in the conscience of those who give criminal orders and sow violence”, Kondrusiewicz warned.
For the prelate, the violence leads only to destabilisation and destructive divisions in society and interrogates the Belorusian people: “How long, perhaps even more than one generation, will it take to heal the wounds that offend the truth when brother raises his hand against brother?
Faced with the path of repentance and spiritual and moral purification which Belarusian society will have to face and “without which it is impossible to overcome the socio-political crisis”, the president of the Belarusian episcopate urged the authorities “in the name of a much-needed peace to initiate a constructive dialogue with society, to stop the violence and to release immediately all the innocent citizens arrested in peaceful demonstrations”.
“May the merciful God welcome into his kingdom the victims of this national tragedy. May the wounded be healed. May he comfort the mourners. May the tolerant and peace-loving people of Belarus receive their peace. May the gift of love of neighbour be strengthened in him, so that good may overcome evil”, Kondrusiewicz concluded.
(With reporting by Alina Tufani, Vatican News)
Full text of the statement of the Executive Committee of Justice & Peace Europe on the current situation in Belarus
Peace and Justice for Belarus
(Source: Justice & Peace Europe)
Following the Presidential election in Belarus held on 9 August 2020, thousands of protesters took to the streets to reject the election results as manipulated, leading to violent clashes with the country’s security forces.
According to reports, the disproportionate violence deployed by Belarusian authorities has cost at least two lives and caused hundreds of injuries.
About 6000 demonstrators have been detained and many of those subsequently released bear the marks of torture.
Moreover, the crackdown on civil rights and freedoms has intensified. This alarming situation poses a serious threat to justice and peace not only in Belarus but in the entire region.
On behalf of the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions (‘Justice & Peace Europe‘), we denounce any form of violence and strongly condemn the use of torture by Belarusian authorities against detained protesters.
We also call for the immediate release of all who have been arrested without any justification.
We urge the Belarusian authorities to fully respect human rights, including the right to life, the prohibition of torture, the freedom of assembly, media and expression, and to adhere to democratic principles.
We welcome the unity of the Member States of the European Union in showing their solidarity with the people of Belarus and we express our support for the efforts of the EU to work on targeted measures against individuals reponsible for grave human rights abuses.
We join the Catholic Bishops of Belarus in their appeal for seeking the truth on the basis of a peaceful and inclusive dialogue between Belarusian political leadership and broader society to avoid further violence.
We invite all Christians to unite in saying the Lord’s Prayer for the Belarusian people on Tuesday, 18 August 2020, at 18:00 CEST so that truth, justice and peace may prevail.
Brussels, 16 August 2020
The Executive Committee of Justice & Peace Europe