Veronika Tsepkalo on the eve of the presentation of the Sakharov Prize

Veronika Tsepkalo, Tatiana Khomich, Ales Bialiatsky and Olga Kovalkova spoke at the European Parliament on the eve of the presentation of the Sakharov Prize.

In her speech, Veronica Tsepkalo thanked MEPs for the high recognition of the struggle of the Belarusian people for their rights. She recalled how it began with Valery Tsepkalo, Viktor Babaryko, Sergei Tikhanovsky challenging the Lukashenka regime. “From the first days of the campaign, few believed that change could actually happen Belarus. Everyone thought that these elections would be exactly the same as before,” said Veronica. “I would also like to remind you of those people who did a lot for this campaign when the regime was strong, and when few believed any change was possible. Some of these people have not received awards. They include Valeriy Tsepkalo, Viktor Babariko, Sergei Tikhanovsky, Pavel Sevyarynets and Nikolai Statkevich. She reminded everyone that Maria Kolesnikova, Olga Khizhinkova and 22 other strong women of Belarus are also currently in prison and need support and help.  In her opinion, "the regime doesn't care about your age, profession, or status. They just put you in jail”. Veronica spoke about her conversations with many women who were in prison. They all talked about the terrible conditions in which they were held: “The cells are overcrowded, the prisoners are unable to have a hot shower. They are denied  medical assistance. Women are thrown into punishment cells, where they can only stand upright. The regime considers this fair punishment for peaceful protest." In conclusion, Veronica addressed the international community, “We want the whole world to know what is happening in Belarus. Thank you for this award. Our fight goes on. Long live Belarus! "

The Andrei Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (the Sakharov Prize) is awarded annually to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights.

To recap, on 22nd October, at the plenary session of the European Parliament, its Chairman David Sassoli announced the representatives of the democratic opposition of Belarus as recipients of the 2020 prize.

The award will be presented tomorrow, 16th December.

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