Belorussian political prisoners must be immediately released
- Deputy Crowe has ‘adopted’ 17-year-old prisoner
- Just one of thousands of tragic cases
Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is campaigning for the release of a teenager, who is among an estimated 32,000 Belorussian nationals who have been arrested as part of the political protests against the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko and the Belorussian government.
Siarhei Hatskevich was just 16 when he was arrested following a demonstration in the city of Brest last August.
Now aged 17, he has been behind bars since March of this year and has been sentenced to three years imprisonment for his participation in the protests.
“I was recently asked by Liberco, a non-governmental organisation, to consider supporting a campaign to have political prisoners in Belarus released,” said Deputy Crowe.
“They asked me if I would consider ‘adopting’ a prisoner and using my political position in Ireland to campaign and lobby for the release of these prisoners.
“I am happy to be declared the adopter of Siarhei Hatskevich. (PRON; Sir-ih-hi Hats-ka-vich)
“Siarhei was a high school pupil before his arrest and detention and the life he’s currently living is in sharp contrast with what teenagers of his age in Ireland are living.
“All freedom has been taken from him – he should be enjoying the liberation and exuberances of youth and yet he finds himself behind bars.
“My office team and I will be doing everything we can to highlight his situation and to seek his release.
“I have set up a Change.org petition and would encourage all who can to sign it.
“It’s hard to believe in the 21st century that Belarus, on the doorstep of the EU, still operates on a dictatorial basis.
“During recent Dáil debates on the European Council, I have spoken on the Belorussian situation.
“Co. Clare has a long-established link with Belarus, with many children who suffer from chronic illnesses arising from the Chernobyl tragedy coming here for holiday stays with Clare families each summer.
“Whilst all of Europe has embraced a western style of democracy, Belarus is definitely lagging behind and it still operates a regime back into what would have existed in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.
“As a TD, I regularly attend local schools and speak to pupils and when I resume this activity in September, I hope to make Clare students aware of Siarhei’s struggle and they too can join me in fighting for his release.”