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Zero Discrimination Day: Addressing Nationality-Based Discrimination Against Belarusians Worldwide

On March 1st, the UN declared Zero Discrimination Day. Today, we want to draw attention to the issue of nationality-based discrimination faced by Belarusians around the world. Despite efforts to promote equality, Belarusians continue to face prejudice and discrimination solely based on their nationality and citizenship.

Discrimination occurs in obtaining documents for legalization, employment, educational opportunities, access to healthcare, housing, and social services. Additionally, geopolitical tensions and conflicts exacerbate discrimination against Belarusians and perpetuate negative stereotypes.

Due to the war in Ukraine, we are regarded as citizens of an aggressor country, despite the fact that Belarusians are fighting against dictatorship within their own country, facing repression, political persecution, and forced displacement without the ability to return home, even temporarily.

Belarusians find themselves in desperate situations, facing discrimination due to the actions of the self-proclaimed president of Belarus, who makes decisions on behalf of the entire nation.

It is important to understand that individuals should not be held responsible for the actions of a person who forcefully holds power in the country.

Types of discrimination experienced by Belarusians abroad:

1. Visa Application Ban

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic proposed an amendment to a government decree that would permanently ban visa applications from Belarusians to the Czech Republic. The government approved the amended resolution on Wednesday, February 21, 2024. Moreover, the procedure for issuing visas to EU countries has become significantly more complicated and expensive for Belarusians. Even in urgent cases, Belarusians are forced to wait for visas for up to two months.

2. Blocking of Bank Accounts

The blocking of bank accounts belonging to Belarusian citizens by Ukrainian and European banks, as well as the suspension of mobile services for Belarusian SIM cards, represents a blatant violation of human rights based solely on nationality.

3. Discrimination of Belarusian Students Abroad

Discriminatory measures imposed by some EU member states, such as the Czech Republic, further complicate the challenges faced by Belarusian citizens. Restrictions on visa issuance, especially for study purposes, severely hinder the academic and professional development of Belarusian students and professionals. Belarusian students are not allowed to study in the Czech Republic in strategic areas such as nanotechnology, aerospace, nuclear technology, and information technology.

4. Employment Discrimination

Discrimination based on nationality of Belarusian citizens has also become a prevalent issue, with individuals being fired from their jobs or denied employment opportunities because of their citizenship.

In many cases, Belarusians are offered significantly lower wages than citizens of the countries they reside in.

Discrimination against Belarusians also manifests in other forms, including refusal to rent housing, denial of service in commercial establishments, and overpricing. These discriminatory practices not only undermine the fundamental rights and dignity of Belarusian citizens but also perpetuate bias and harmful stereotypes.

Informing the international community about the distinction between the actions of the Belarusian dictator and the Belarusian people is crucial. Belarusians should not be held accountable for the actions of a person who violently seized and maintains power in the country.

On Zero Discrimination Day, the Belarus Women's Foundation calls on the US government, European countries, international organizations, civil society, to take action to combat discrimination based on nationality against Belarusians:

  1. Enact and enforce anti-discrimination laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on nationality and provide protection mechanisms for Belarusians.
  2. Do not close bank accounts for Belarusians, as our accounts are forcibly closed at home, and the money is seized by the state.
  3. Do not complicate the procedures for issuing Schengen visas, do not raise visa prices, as is the case now! Most Belarusians are forced to leave the country due to repression.
  4. Provide support services and resources to address the specific needs and challenges faced by Belarusian migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, including financial, legal, psychosocial support, as well as language assistance.

Remember, many Belarusians cannot return home as they face persecution and repression in their homeland. We cannot even return to retrieve personal belongings or extend documents!

Let us unite our efforts to create an inclusive, fair, and friendly world where every person who has been forced to leave their country feels equal, without fear or discrimination in the new country that has temporarily become their home.

#ZeroDiscrimination   #EndDiscrimination   #StandWithBelarus   #SolidarityWithBelarus

#Belarus   #EU   #PoliticalWill   #TimeToAct

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Women political prisoners in Belarus

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