The democratic movement led by Svetlana Tijanóvskaya receives the highest recognition from the European Parliament in the field of human rights.
The European Parliament this Thursday awarded the Sakharov 2020 prize for freedom of conscience to the democratic opposition of Belarus represented by the socalled Coordination Council an initiative of brave women and political figures and civil society according to the words of the Eurocamara
This body is mainly led by Svetlana Tijanóvskaya the 38yearold former English teacher who has become the face of the protests that have flooded the streets of Minsk for almost three months
Tijanóvskaya today exiled in Lithuania was the main opposition candidate in the presidential elections in Belarus on August 9
In those elections there were no surprises and Aleksandr Lukashenko the president who has done and unmade in the country at will since 1994 claimed victory with 80 of the votes in elections plagued with irregularities, The opposition denounced electoral fraud then took to the streets and squares and was harshly repressed.
The protests for democracy in Belarus and against the authoritarian leader do not decline despite the harsh repression since its most visible leaders are in exile such as Tijanóvskaya
who left the country after seeing his family threatened or in prison as another of its prominent leaders the musician Maria Kolésnikova who managed to stop her deportation by breaking her passport at the border and has been imprisoned since September 8 accused of attacking national security.
Lukashenko 66 maintains that the Coordination Council wants to seize power and has put its members under the focus of the authorities
They have something going for them that brute force can never defeat the truth the president of the European Parliament David Sassoli highlighted on Twitter after the news Do not give up in your fight We are by your side
Thousands of people have been detained and retaliated in the protests since August
The Belarusian authorities have opened more than 400 criminal cases against citizens for participating in the mobilizations while there are hundreds of public complaints about police violence especially in the first days and civil rights organizations have documented cases of torture
Lukashenko who has appealed to Russia for help and currently has the support of Moscow is keeping the pulse of the democracy movement and clinging to power
The Belarusian Interior Ministry which has threatened to use live ammunition if necessary against participants in peaceful social mobilizations assured this Thursday that social protests are turning into a terrorist threat
The mobilizations that began to support Tijanóvskaya and against electoral fraud have already lasted 75 days
The former English teacher who had been working at home caring for her children in recent years decided to run for the presidency of Belarus when authorities arrested and vetoed her husband a wellknown opposition blogger who remains in prison
Tijanóvskayas candidacy joined by the other two main banned applicants thus managed to unify a Belarusian society tired of an authoritarian leader who has been in power for 26 years irritated by the lack of freedoms attacks on human rights and the need for reforms also angered by the disastrous management of the coronavirus pandemic
Lukashenko who has been characterized by his macho comments and who maintains that a woman cannot preside over Belarus found that his main opponents were three women Tijanóvskaya and the representatives of the other two campaigns Veronika Tsepkalo and María Kolésnikova.
We are particularly impressed by the role of such courageous women in the ongoing prodemocracy revolution said the Socialist Group of the European Parliament.
The Coordination Council which calls for a peaceful transition new elections and the release of political prisoners has about 600 members divided into different thematic commissions and a leadership of seven people among which are the Nobel Prize for literature Svetlana Alexievich with a fundamentally symbolic role and the musician Kolésnikova.
In any case the leaders of the European Union have found it difficult to take forceful steps against an uncomfortable neighbor whose relations further cloud their already poisoned ties with Russia
It took Brussels a month and a half to decide not to recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus And almost two months to sanction 40 officials of the regime
The European Parliament much more explicit in its support for the democratic wave from the beginning received Tijánóvskaya and other leading members of the opposition at its Brussels headquarters in September
The Sakharov Prize has been awarded since 1988 by the European Parliament to highlight individuals and organizations that defend human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In its first edition it highlighted the work of Nelson Mandela and among its latest winners are the Uighur intellectual Ilham Tohti in 2019 for his work against the repression of China and the Venezuelan opposition in 2017.
It is not the first time that MEPs have recognized members of the opposition against Lukashenko already in 2004 he awarded the Belarusian Association of Journalists and in 2006 the politician Aleksander Milinkevich.