Protest action in Ghent on Tuesday, June 27th at 16:00 (Belgian time) against the deportation of a Belarusian peace activist by Lithuania and the persecution of war resisters in Belarus.

As in Russia and Ukraine, there is a law in Belarus that recognises the right to conscientious objection. However, in reality, those who refuse military service face active persecution within the country. As a staunch ally of Russia, the country has not yet declared a general mobilization, but it supports Russia’s “special military operations”. Civilians who are called up for the army and refuse to serve are subjected to prison terms of 2 to 5 years under a special law. Meanwhile, the Belarusian state widely promotes further militarisation of society through the organisation of chilreb patriotic camps, which include weapons training for these minors.

In this context, it is not surprising that Belarusian peace activists face difficulties expressing their opinions in public, as doing so puts them at risk of detention. One of such activists is Vitali Dvarashyn. As, a former military personnel, he grew increasingly disgusted with Belarusian regime’s militaristic approach. Out of fear of being forced to serve in the army, he decided to leave the country at the beginning of the war in Ukraine. He went to Lithuania, where he joined an organization in the capital Vilnius that supports conscientious objectors in Belarus. Now, this peace activist is threatened with deportation from Lithuania to Belarus due to his military past, where he will almost certainly face legal prosecution. Vitali has filed a legal appeal against his situation and will await the court’s decision on June 28th.

In solidarity with Vitali and other peace activists and conscientious objectors from the belligerent states, we will demand on June 27th at the Lithuanian consulate in Ghent that this country does not deport him to Belarus. Afterwards, we will proceed to the Belarusian consulate to advocate for an end to the persecution of conscientious objectors in that country. Testimonies of conscientious objectors from Belarus will be read during the action.

The action takes place within the context of the European “Object War Campaign”, which demands for EU asylum for conscientious objectors and deserters from the states involved in the war in Ukraine. The action in Ghent is an initiative by Vrede vzw and Quakers Gent.

The action is scheduled to take place in Ghent on Tuesday, June 27th, with a starting time of 4 pm at the Consulate of Lithuania (Coupure 371). From there, we will proceed to the Consulate of Belarus (Coupure Rechts 162).

More background:

Object War Campaign

Situation in Belarus