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BELARUS OPPOSITION LEADER URGES EUROPE TO HELP HER PEOPLE

Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya called on Tuesday for sanctions and international pressure against President Alexander Lukashenko and officials involved in a violent crackdown on protests, pol O Gradaigh and Peter Spinella reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) early on September 9, 2020.

"My country, my nation, my people now need help," Tikhanovskaya said in a speech to the Council of Europe, seeking support for a peaceful transition of power in Belarus, a former Soviet republic that is the only major European country not to be a member of that council. "We need international pressure on this regime, on this one individual desperately clinging onto power," Tikhanovskaya said during the videoconference. "We need sanctions on individuals who issue and execute criminal orders that violate international norms and human rights." 


There have been protests in Belarus every day since last month's disputed presidential election. At least 7,000 protesters have been detained. The United Nations has received 450 reports of torture and other abuse of such detainees. 


"Opposition leaders are held under trumped up charges, intimidated, threatened or expelled from [the] country altogether," Tikhanovskaya charged. "Hundreds of people are jailed, raped, beaten. This should not be the norm in Europe." Tikhanovskaya, 37, claimed that the August 9 election was rigged to maintain long-time President Lukashenko's grip on power. She called for the "immediate release of all political prisoners."



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