By LORNE COOK, Related Press
BRUSSELS (AP) — Former Belarus presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya urged the European Union to step up its assist for embattled democracy protesters in her nation, as she picked up the EU’s high human rights prize Wednesday on behalf of a bunch of opposition leaders.
“With out a free Belarus, Europe shouldn’t be absolutely free both. We ask Europe and the entire world to face with Belarus,” Tsikhanouskaya instructed lawmakers in Brussels as she collected the Sakharov Prize on behalf of the Belarus opposition.
Holding aloft images of Belarusians who’ve rallied in opposition to authoritarian Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, protesters who typically been detained and overwhelmed by safety forces, she devoted the award to them. On the identical time, Tsikhanouskaya appealed to the 27-nation bloc to be braver in its actions.
“Standing for democracy and human rights shouldn’t be interference, however it’s responsibility of every self-respecting nation,” she instructed EU lawmakers, talking in English. “Your solidarity and your voice are vital, however it’s actions that matter.”
Mass protests have gripped Belarus since official outcomes from the Aug. 9 presidential election gave Lukashenko a landslide victory over his extensively in style rival, Tsikhanouskaya, and a sixth time period in workplace. She and her supporters refused to acknowledge the end result, saying the vote was riddled with fraud, and a few ballot staff got here ahead to element how the election was rigged of their areas.
The EU additionally refuses to acknowledge the outcomes and has imposed sanctions on Lukashenko and a number of other of his associates.
Belarus authorities have cracked down arduous on the largely peaceable demonstrations, the largest of which attracted as much as 200,000 individuals. Police have used stun grenades, tear fuel and truncheons to disperse the rallies. Mass detentions have continued.
In accordance with human rights advocates, greater than 30,000 individuals have been detained for the reason that protests started, and hundreds had been brutally overwhelmed. 4 persons are reported to have died.
In a speech punctuated by applause, Tsikhanouskaya thanked EU lawmakers for the popularity implicit within the prize, named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov and created in 1988 to honor people or teams who defend human rights and elementary freedoms.
“What’s a greater recognition that we’re free thinkers? What’s a greater motivation for us to maintain going? We’re certain to win, and we’ll win,” she mentioned.
European Parliament President David Sassoli paid tribute to the Belarus opposition.
“We see your braveness. We will see the braveness of girls. We see your struggling. We see the unspeakable abuses. We see the violence. Your aspiration and willpower to dwell in a democratic nation evokes us,” Sassoli mentioned.
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