On May 15th, an action in support of Belarusian conscientious objectors and deserters took place in Vilnius.
It is worth mentioning that on February 21, 2023, the fully controlled parliament under Lukashenko introduced the death penalty for “state treason” of military personnel, which includes desertion with subsequent departure abroad (deserters cannot stay in Belarus because they would be quickly found and arrested). Criminal liability has been established for assisting deserters in their escape. Currently, those who help deserters face up to 5 years of imprisonment. Similarly, criminal cases are initiated for refusing to serve in the army, although this does not lead to an increase in the number of people willing to join the military.
Therefore, on May 15th, Belarusians gathered near the Belarusian embassy in Vilnius for the “Say NO to War” rally as a sign of solidarity with Belarusian conscientious objectors who refuse to serve in the army and participate in the war in Ukraine on Putin’s side.
In particular, the following demands were voiced by the gathered participants:
- Recognize Belarus as occupied by Russia since February 20, 2022.
- Open humanitarian corridors:
a. Grant humanitarian visas and political asylum to men fleeing conscription into the military.
b. Grant humanitarian visas and political asylum to victims of political repression.
This is already the second action in Vilnius, the first one took place on February 20, 2023, on the anniversary of the occupation of Belarus by Russia.