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We demand a firm position from the Romanian State in support of civil society and human rights in Belarus

EFOR joined a series of well known public figures and requested from the Romanian authorities a strong position in support of the Belarus civil society and human rights.

 

Dear President Klaus Iohannis,
Dear Prime Minister Ludovic Orban,
Dear Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu,

30 years ago, the Romanians experienced a bloody revolution, and they are also familiar with recent repressions of peaceful protests, such as those of August 10, 2018, exactly two years before the start of current events in Belarus. Moreover, the same methods of torture described by citizens imprisoned in Belarus (such as being forced to stand in line in the middle of law enforcement officers who hit them with rubber sticks from both sides) were also described by Romanian citizens arrested during the 1989 Revolution. Therefore, Romania must not stand aside when the people of Belarus need international solidarity.

That is why we expect our President and Government to take a firm stand in support of the fundamental rights of Belarusians, such as free and fair elections, an end to torture and degrading treatment, the right to assembly and a fair trial, in the context of the presidential elections. Since August 9, 2020, terror has been unleashed in Belarus by the illegitimate regime led by Alexander Lukashenko against its own peaceful citizens.

Representatives of several NGOs, members and representatives of civil society, artists and cultural personalities, respond to the call addressed to the international artistic community by Svetlana Sugako and Nadia Brodskaya, directors of the Belarus Free Theatre, arrested on August 9, 2020, and imprisoned in inhumane conditions. Their theatre, though applauded and awarded in the free world, is outlawed in their own country. The artists’ call can be found here, and a detailed account of the inhuman treatment of the two artists can be found in The New Yorker magazine.

BELARUSIANS ASKING FOR FREEDOM, MINSK, AUGUST 16 2020, PHOTO: ARTEM PODREZ

The Janka Kupała National Theatre, the National Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Opera, the National Art Gallery and many artists from Belarus have joined the protests or have gone on strike. Consequences followed immediately. For example, Pavel Latushko, a former Minister of Culture and a current member of the Belarusian Coordinating Council, has been fired as director of the Janka Kupała Theatre.

Through this open letter, we ask you to intervene urgently, honestly and firmly through all channels and means at your disposal in support of the citizens of Belarus, who these days are demonstrating peacefully, in very large numbers, throughout the country. We have followed President Klaus Iohannis’ press statement (August 19) and we are glad to know that he has aligned with the official position of the European Union which called for “an immediate end to violence and the release of illegally detained persons”, pointing out that “a transparent investigation of all abuses is necessary and that the guilty should be held accountable.”

Unfortunately, in the context of the rapid development of events in Belarus, this position is no longer sufficient. After a few days of calm, when Alexander Lukashenko’s loyal forces did not beat and arrest people, and some of the illegally detained citizens were released, there are very clear signs that terror is raging again in the streets of Belarus, a terror publicly announced by the dictator of Belarus himself in his threatening speech on August 19.

PROTEST IN MINSK, BELARUS, AUGUST 16 2020, PHOTO: ARTEM PODREZ

Scenes of beatings and detainments that have been posted through the Telegram network, on channels such as Nexta LiveRadio Svaboda or Free Belarus News, are almost unbearable to watch. The repression is simply barbaric, savage. Peaceful protesters, journalists or simple passers-by are picked up, beaten in the streets and put on buses that transport them to various detention centres, where they are beaten and tortured again. Dozens of detainees are crammed into cells meant for only few people, without food, water or medical assistance. After the release of some of the prisoners, reports and testimonies of doctors followed, exposing dozens of cases of rape of Belarusian detainees, both women and men.

Prominent protesters are disappearing from their homes with no one knowing anything about their fate. Dmitry Kudelevich, for example, a member of the strike committee of the Belaruskali fertilizer company in Salihorsk, and Evgeniy Bokhvalov, organizer of the strike at MAZ (Minsk Automobile Company), have been arrested in recent days. Some of those detained have since been released and then arrested again.

However, the cruelty of the Lukashenko regime did not stop at torture. The counting of those who are losing their lives is far from over. The death of Genady Shutov, from Brest, was announced in a dry statement by the authorities: “We regret to report that on August 19, the citizen of the Republic of Belarus Genady Shutov, has died.”

34-year-old Alexander Taraykovsky lost his life when he was shot on August 10. Authorities are falsely claiming that he had explosive material in his hand, whilst images published by the Associated Press clearly show that he was peacefully protesting, with empty hands, and was shot from a short distance.

There is enough evidence, gathered by opposition groups and independent observers, to show that the possibility of Alexander Lukashenko having won the elections is out of the question. There is also ample evidence that the elected president of the Belarusian people is Svetlana Tihanovskaia. The protests of hundreds of thousands of Belarusians from all around the country, who risk their jobs, physical integrity and lives, come to strengthen this result. There are numerous independent exit polls and reports from polling stations across the country, of people who bravely published real election results. There are also over one million online votes in favour of Ms Tihanovskaia. It is to be noticed that the situation is so serious that honest and courageous testimonies about merely being present in an electoral commission in Belarus endanger the lives of citizens. For instance, Konstantin Shishmako, 29, who refused to sign the false protocol at the polling station where he was member, was found dead in a forest on August 19.

We therefore urge you, through this open letter, to take the immediately take the following firm actions:

  • opening of official communication channels with Svetlana Tihanovskaia and the Coordinating Council of Belarus;
  • communicating the official position that Alexander Lukashenko is not recognized as President elect;
  • setting a deadline for the transfer of power, through dialogue, from the former President and current usurper of power in the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, to the opposition; if this transfer of power is not possible, then Svetlana Tihanovskaia should be recognised as interim President until further elections will take place;
  • if Alexander Lukashenko refuses dialogue and continues to respond by force, please consider withdrawing the accreditation of the Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to Romania in protest of the bloody events throughout Belarus and, if the Lukashenko regime continues to crack down on its own citizens and is not open to dialogue with Belarusian society, the cessation of diplomatic relations.

Following the example of other Eastern European countries, Romania must be ready to open its borders to Belarusian citizens if the humanitarian situation requires, and to grant visas, as a matter of urgency, to Belarusian citizens persecuted by the current regime.

In the absence of a firm position of Romania, we would make ourselves accomplices to the tragedy of the Belarusian people. Both we and our Government must defend European values through honest public statements, statements that must never be self-censored for fear of a dictator.

In the hope that our message will be heard as a call for action,

Hereafter sign:

 

Ada Gales, actress – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Ada Solomon, film producer
Adi Tudose, photographer
Adina Pintilie, film director, cultural events organizer – Manekino Cultural Association
Adrian Cioflâncă, historian (CNSAS, CSIER)
Adrian Lăcătuș, director of the Multicultural Centre of the Transylvania University, Brașov
Adrian Niculescu, The National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, vice-president of IICCMER
Adrian Popescu, writer
Alex Călin, actor – Excelsior Theatre (Bucharest)
Alex Goldiș, literary critic and historian
Axel Moustache, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Alexandra Tănăsescu, journalist, Culturaladuba
Alexandru Matei, writer
Alexandru Potocean, actor -The National Theatre of Bucharest
Alexandru Solomon, film director
Alina Purcariu, literary critic
Ana Blandiana, writer
Ana Covalciuc, actress
Ana Ioana Macaria, actress – Bulandra Theatre (Bucharest)
Anamaria Antoci, film producer
Anca Damian, film producer and director, screenwriter, cultural manager (Romanian Association of the Women in Cinema)
Anca Măniuțiu, professor doctor, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj (Film & Theatre Faculty)
Anca Oroveanu, art historian
Andrei Tănăsescu, curator, member of the selection teams – Venice Days and Vilnius Film Festival
Andreea Nae, executive producer, Communication Department of The National Theatre of Bucharest
Andrei Cornea, essayist and art historian
Andrei Crețulescu, film director and screenwriter
Andrei Finți, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Andrei Oișteanu, researcher, The Romanian Academy
Andrei Pleșu, writer, former Minister of Foreign Affairs
Andrei Ujică, film director
Andrei Ursu, member of the Board of “Gheorghe Ursu” Foundation, researcher at The National Council for the Study of the Securitate
Angela Furtună, writer
Armand Calotă, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Armand Goșu, historian
Bogdan Ghiu, writer, member of the Romanian PEN Club
Brândușa Mircea, actress – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Brîndușa Armanca, journalist
Brîndușa Palade, associate professor at The National University of Political Studies and Public Administration
Caius Dobrescu, writer
Camelia Doru, president of ICAR Foundation
Carmen Bendovski, cultural manager
Carmen Lidia Vidu, stage director
Carmen Mușat, literary critic and cultural manager; manager of the ”Observatorul Cultural” weekly
Cassian Maria Spiridon, writer
Călin Mihăilescu, writer
Călin Vlăsie, writer
Cătălin Cioabă, The University of Bucharest
Cătălin Moise, film director
Cezar Paul-Bădescu, writer
Ciprian Ciocan, executive director, Sibiu Community Foundation
Ciprian Nicula, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Claudiu Bleonț, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Codruța Crețulescu, film producer
Constantin Dogioiu, actor – Bulandra Theatre (Bucharest)
Corin Braga, writer and literary critic
Corina Bernic, writer and translator
Cornel Brad, photographer (Oameni.Putere.România)
Cosmin Costinaș, director of the “Para Site Art” Centre, Hong Kong
Cosmin Perța, writer
Cosmina Olariu, actress – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Crina Semciuc, actress – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Cristian Mungiu, film director
Cristina Guseth, Freedom House Romania
Cristina Lilienfeld, choreographer, artistic director of the Association for Theatre and Books “PETEC”
Dan Crudu, actor
Dan Grigore, musician
Dan Perjovschi, artist
Dan Stanciu, writer
Daniela Luca, poet and essayist
Denisa Comănescu, publisher
Diana Dumbravă, actress – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Doina Jela, writer, founding member of AZIR/AEJ
Dorina Oarga, cultural manager
Dragoș Ciulinaru, sociologist – Make a Point
Eduard Adam, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Emil Moise, president of the Association for the Freedom of Consciousness
Evelina Morar, “Evolution in Institution”
Florentina Tilea, actress – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Florin Călbăjos, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Florin Iaru, writer
Florin Iepan, film director
Gabriel Andreescu, director of “The New Magazine for the Human Rights”
Gabriela Adameșteanu, writer
Gabriela Hamzescu, Communication Department of The National Theatre of Bucharest
Gabriela Mirescu-Gruber, political scientist
Gelu Vlașin, poet and essayist
George Mihalache, architect
Gheorghe Ardeleanu, writer
Gianina Cărbunariu, stage director
Iaromira Popovici, journalist
Ioan Andrei Ionescu, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Ioan Matiuț, poet
Ioana Ieronim, writer
Ioana Nicolae, writer
Ioana Păun, stage director
Irina Cojar, actress – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Irina-Margareta Nistor, film critic
Irina Movilă, actress – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Irina Pienaru, architect and researcher, TU Berlin
István Teglás, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Iulian Boldea, writer
Lari Gerogescu, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Laurențiu Brătan, film critic and cultural manager – Make a Point
Lia Faur, writer
Lidia Vianu, literary critic and translator
Ligia Soare, translator
Liviu Andreescu, The University of Bucharest
Liviu Antonesei, writer
Liviu Lucaci, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest, rector of The National University of Theatre and Film of Bucharest
Liviu Tofan, journalist
Lucian Micu, “Develop Sibiu” Association
Lucian Nastasa-Kovács, historian, Cluj
Luiza Pârvu, film director, university lecturer
Luiza Șora, writer
Luiza Zamora, art historian, Association “37”
Magda Cârneci, member of the Romanian Pen Board and The Group for Social Dialogue
Maria Roth, professor, Babeș-Bolyai University (Cluj)
Marian Coman, writer and journalist
Marian Rădună, Association “Geeks for Democracy”
Marina Palii, actress
Marius Manole, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Marius Boeriu, president of the Association “November 15, 1987” (Brașov)
Mădălin Hodor, historian
Mădălina Roșca, film director, cultural manager – Make a Point
Medeea Marinescu, actress – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Melinda Boros, film producer
Michael Shafir, political scientist
Mihaela Michailov, playwright
Mihaela Sârbu, actress, professor at The National University of Theatre and Film of Bucharest
Mihai Calotă, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Mihai Călin, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Mihai Dinu Gheorghiu, sociologist, professor at the Iași University
Mihai Măniuțiu, theatre director, manager of the National Theatre of Cluj-Napoca
Mihai Șora, philosopher and essayist
Mihai Demetriade, counselor at the Research Department of the The National University of Political Studies and Public Administration
Mihai Mitrică, film producer and cultural manager
Mircea Dan Duță, poet, translator, member of the Romanian Pen Club and Czech Pen Club
Mona Petre, visual artist, founder of “Forgotten Plants & Historical Garden”
Monica Davidescu, actress – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Monika Tompos, “Develop Sibiu” Association
Mircea Cărtărescu, writer
Mircea Kivu, sociologist
Mona Nicoară, film director
Natalia Călin, actress – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Nelia German, architect
Nicolae Coande, writer
Ofelia Prodan, poet
Ovidiu Cuncea, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Paul Arne Wagner, film director and photographer – Make a Point
Péter Demény, writer and translator
Péter Eckstein-Kovács, lawyer, former member of the Romanian Parliament
Petre M. Iancu, journalist, Deutsche Welle
Radu Filipescu, engineer, former president of the Group for Social Dialogue, former political prisoner
Radu F. Alexandru, playright
Radu Jude, film director
Radu Paraschivescu, writer
Radu Pavel Gheo, writer and translator
Radu Polizu, FlyingMonk Films
Radu Sergiu Ruba, writer
Radu Ulmeanu, writer
Radu Vancu, president of the Romanian Pen
Raluca Grosescu, researcher
Raluca Petra, actress – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Răzvan Orășanu, president of the Association “Ține de Noi”
Răzvan Popa, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Richard Bovnoczki, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Riri Sylvia Manor, poet
Romanița Iordache, human rights researcher, co-president of “ACCEPT” Association
Romulus Bucur, poet and essayist
Ruxandra Cesereanu, writer
Ruxandra Gubernat, film director and researcher, Demodocs
Sabin Orcan, journalist
Sebastian Reichmann, writer
Silvia Călin, choreographer
Simona Sora, writer
Simona Sterca, architect
Smaranda Baciu, writer
Smaranda Enache, co-president of “Liga Pro Europa”
Smaranda Găbudeanu – artist, president of the Association for Theatre and Books “PETEC”
Sorin Ioniță, Expert Forum Association
Sorin Șerb, journalist – Radio Free Europe
Sorina Tomulețiu, visual artist
Suzana Dan, artist
Ștefan Niculescu-Maier, engineer, journalist, former political prisoner
Tania Popa, actress – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Toma Peiu, filmmaker, PhD candidate – University of Colorado Boulder
Tudor Chirilă, actor – The Comedy Theatre (Bucharest)
Vasile Igna, writer
Victor Bârsan, journalist
Victoria Milescu, poet and literary critic
Virgil Mihaiu, writer
Virgil Ștefan Nițulescu, manager at The Romanian Peasant Museum (Bucharest)
Vitalie Bichir, actor – The National Theatre of Bucharest
Vlad Ilicevici, film producer and director, cultural manager
Vlad Massaci, stage director
Vladimir Tismăneanu, professor – University of Maryland

NGOs:

Expert Forum
“Gheorghe Ursu” Foundation
ICAR Foundation
The Group for Social Dialogue
Make a Point Association
The Romanian PEN


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