Friday, a conference was organised at the Tallinn Creative Hub to discuss the human rights situation in Belarus. The conference saw the participation of over 250 people, including democratic politicians, human rights activists, journalists, and experts. It was the first Belarusian Conference, and the attendees shared their experiences and discussed the accountability of the Lukashenko regime. The conference also addressed Belarus’s vision for the future.
The keynote speakers at the conference were Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the Belarusian Democratic Forces, and Margus Tsahkna, the Estonian Foreign Minister.
“Estonia is one of our key allies. This gathering gives us an important opportunity to develop our relations further & to explore ways of supporting the repressed & political prisoners in #Belarus,” Tsikhanouskaya posted on Twitter.
The conference discussed media freedom, civil society’s role, and the challenges faced by Belarusians amidst an increasingly authoritarian regime and Russian aggression against Ukraine.
“Belarusian journalists in exile are doing an immensely important job in delivering information to their fellow countrymen,” Foreign Minister Tsahkna posted on Twitter.
The conference aimed to facilitate an environment that encourages exchanging ideas and opinions, fosters new connections and coordinates activities. The target audience comprised democratic activists from the entire region, politicians, experts, opinion and community leaders, and journalists. The conference was also instrumental in ensuring that Belarus remains a central focus on the European political agenda.
Estonia is among the countries that provide the most support to Belarusian citizens living in exile and the democratic opposition. The Estonian Foreign Minister stated that Estonia is pleased to offer up to 35 annual residence permits to journalists who face persecution for doing their jobs.
“We must stand together against an evil force trying to overrun the freedoms we hold so dear,” stressed Tsahkna.
“Confirmed today at the Belarus conference: Estonia, Ukraine & the Democratic Forces of Belarus stand together against Russia’s bloody aggression in 🇺🇦; Lukashenko, as an accomplice in Russian crimes in the aggression against 🇺🇦, must be held accountable together with Putin,” posted Tsahkna on Twitter.
Pavel Latushka, Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, also attended the conference.
“It is important that we have a common understanding of the priority of the #Lukashenko regime’s responsibility for crimes, harmonisation of sanctions, and most importantly, support for the European choice & future for #Belarus,” wrote Latushka.