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Letter from Ihar Losik to Pope Francis

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Your Holiness,

My name is Ihar Losik. I work for the Belarusian programmes of Radio Liberty/Free Europe. I am a Catholic, the father of a beautiful little girl Paŭlina. Sadly, she has been growing without her dad for more than a year. I have not seen my daughter for more than a year either. I did not hear her first words, nor I saw her first drawings. I am very anxious that she will forget me or even forget the word ‘dad’.

Why did this happen? Why has this been going on for over a year? I do not have the answer, nor I know why more than 600 others are currently suffering in the same way, and thousands more are in real danger. Some will never see their fathers and sons, because they are no longer alive.

I will not be describing the situation in my Belarus. You are probably aware of everything that is happening, especially after Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz was not allowed back into the country just because he had a kind heart and could not ignore injustice and violence. Nor will I be explaining the details of my unlawful and absurd criminal prosecution. I just want to tell that many, countless people who found themselves in the same situation are so desperate that the only resolution to everything happening to them, to the suffering from never-ending mental and physical pressure and torture they see in a suicide.

It is hard for me to admit, but I have also been brought to the point where I will just think for days on how to leave this world and stop suffering. I could never imagine that for many months I would be falling asleep and waking up with this thought in the middle of the night.

At first, I tried to prove my innocence by all legal means. Later, out of desperation I went on a hunger strike for 42 days. My wife joined my hunger strike too. Every day for two months now she has been standing under the prison walls while I was tried behind closed doors. Threats were made to my family, my two-year-old daughter – these people have nothing sacred. They just decided to finish me off. They left no other option to prove my innocence but posthumously. I tried to cut open my veins – fifteen years in prison for nothing, without seeing my daughter is worse than death.

I am not asking to advocate for me. I am asking to stand up for good, truth and justice, for thousands of Belarusians who have despaired in the same and even worse situations. I am asking Your Holiness to call on these terrible people who do not care about the lives of others and hundreds of grief-stricken families to stop.

Maybe I am too naive, and this letter will never reach you. Nevertheless, I am writing it completely sincerely and from the bottom of my heart. I believe that I am writing it for a reason. I really want to believe that God has not abandoned us, that this senseless cruelty will stop, that no one else will die and everyone will return to their families.

With faith and hope, I am asking Your Holiness for blessing, in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[August 2021, Homiel pre-trial detention centre No. 3]

Ihar Losik with his daughter Paŭlina