From Hilary Homes, Amnesty International Canada <[email protected]>
Subject Belarus: Act now with women defenders
Date October 23, 2020 9:21 PM
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Next week we'll deliver your signature in solidarity with human rights defenders
in Belarus | View in browser [[link removed]] .

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[[link removed]] Belarusian LGBT and gender rights activist Victoria Biran at the time of her
arrest, September 26, 2020 (Photo: Violetta Savchits)
“Our Constitution is such that even for a man this [presidency] is a heavy
burden. And if one placed it on a woman, she would collapse, poor thing.” – President Alyaksandr Lukashenko, June 2020

Dear John,

Women have been at the forefront of the protests and opposition movement in
Belarus, in stark contrast to deeply entrenched discriminatory attitudes within
both state institutions and society. As a result, women also have been
disproportionately affected by the severe clampdown on human rights.

Politically active women and women partners of political activists are often
targeted in gender-specific ways believed to exploit patriarchal notions of
weaknesses and vulnerability. These include smear campaigns, dismissive
commentary, and threats of sexual violence or severe consequences against family

>> You can act in solidarity with women human rights defenders in Belarus now by
demanding an end to the violence and impunity. We will deliver your signature to
authorities next week.
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“Our fight is a fight for freedom, for democracy and for human dignity.” – Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, September 2020

When Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya stood as a presidential candidate in place of her
detained husband Syarhei Tsikhanouski – a political activist and popular blogger
now recognized as a prisoner of conscience – she was forced to send her two young children out of Belarus after receiving an
anonymous threat that they would be taken into state custody. Following further threats, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya – who many believe won the
August 9 election – was forced into exile in Lithuania.

Together with Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Veranika Tsapkala, Maryia Kalesnikava
led an electoral challenge to incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. After
the other two left the country, Maryia Kalesnikava emerged as the
highest-profile opposition figure in Belarus and appeared on the frontline of
numerous peaceful street protests, repeatedly confronting abusive police
officers. She now faces up to 5 years in prison on charges of "actions aimed at undermining Belarusian national security".

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WATCH VIDEO: Hundreds of women detained by police during peaceful protest
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Every day, thousands of Belarusian people continue to take to the streets across
the country to protest what they see as a rigged presidential election.

The police crackdown has been brutal and unrelenting: widespread arrests – o ver 14,000 people have been detained, including dozens of journalists – harassment and intimidation, and rubber bullets, stun grenades, tear gas and
water cannons used against protesters.

This week, the Interior Minister threatened to use live ammunition.

>> Sign this petition to demand that the police violence end now, and those
responsible are held to account. Next week we'll deliver your signature together
with over 130,000 from around the world.
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Amnesty International and local human rights groups have collected horrifying
testimonies from protesters who describe being tortured or subjected to other
ill-treatment in detention centres, including being stripped naked, beaten, and
threatened with rape.

These are people whose only “crime” was to take to the streets in peaceful
protest. What we are seeing in Belarus is a human rights catastrophe that
demands urgent action.

Thank you for joining over 130,000 Amnesty supporters
[[link removed]] around the world letting the Belarus government know that the world is

In solidarity,


Hilary Homes
Crisis & Tactical Campaigner
Amnesty International Canada

P.S. Belarusians demanding respect for their human rights on the streets need
solidarity from people like you. Make sure your name is added to the global petition to stop the violence and
hold those responsible to account.
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