Царква і палітычны крызіс у Беларусі

On the Humanitarian Crisis in Belarus. Address of the Christian Vision Working Group to His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallaher, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See Secretariat of State

On the Humanitarian Crisis in Belarus. Address of the Christian Vision Working Group to His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallaher, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See Secretariat of State

On the Humanitarian Crisis in Belarus. Address of the Christian Vision Working Group to His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallaher, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See Secretariat of State
Хрысціянская візія

Арганізацыя"Хрысціянская візія"

Міжканфесійнае аб’яднанне беларускіх хрысціян, створанае на хвалі мірных пратэстаў 2020 г.

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To His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallaher
Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See Secretariat of State

СС: To His Excellency Archbishop Ante Jozić
Apostolic Nuncio in Belarus

9 November 2021

Your Excellency,

The Christian Vision Working Group of the Coordination Council of Belarus would like to express its deep concern about the situation — approaching a humanitarian catastrophe — at the border of Belarus with the neighboring European Union countries.

We are closely  following the situation with the migration organised by the regime of the former President of the Republic of Belarus, Aliaksandr Lukašenka, since May 2021. Its aim is destabilizing the European Union in response to the sanctions, which the European Union governments have imposed on organisations, businesses and individuals identified as responsible for the repressions and intimidation of peaceful protesters, members of the opposition and journalists in the wake of the 2020 presidential election in Belarus, as well as for rigging the election process.

We welcome the commitment of the Holy Father and the Holy See to the principles of the centrality of the human person and prioritising the dignity of the human being. We also highly value the work of volunteers of NGOs and Churches in providing humanitarian assistance and medical and legal help to the migrants at the Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian sides of the border. We admire the heroic work of those Belarusian human rights activists and volunteers, both secular and religious, who do their best for monitoring the situation of migrants, providing them with legal consultations and material aid despite the obstacles on part of the regime and the risk of persecution.

We share this standpoint. On this basis, we condemn any instrumentalisation of vulnerable people who seek refuge from persecution, poverty and social exclusion in their own countries; who aspire for a better life and a more secure future, but often end up in the border zone — threatened, robbed and violated, risking their lives, health and well-being, including women, teenagers and young children.

We insist on the necessity of treating vulnerable people humanly, on respecting human dignity and international human rights standards, and finding ways for peaceful solutions to the legitimate demands of refugees and asylum seekers.

We would like to draw your attention to the incident at the Bruzhi-Kuźnica border crossing of the Belarusian-Polish border that took place on 8 November 2021. An organised group of over thousand people of mainly the Kurdish origin walked to the aforementioned border crossing seeking a legal option to enter Poland and make an asylum claim there. On the approach to the legal border crossing while still one the Belarusian territory they were prevented from continuing their way by the unidentified individuals dressed in military uniform and armed. They forced the migrants to turn to the forest along the barbed wire fence and  blocked the way to return to the road. On that night, the incident ended with the group attempting to break through the fence with logs, construction tools and military shovels.

Today, 9 November 2021, mass media have published the following position of the Holy See attributed to Your Excellency:«I would like to say that today we see a crisis at the Polish-Belarusian and Lithuanian-Belarusian borders. Our position is to call the authorities of all European countries to take responsibility for what concerns migrants and refugees. We call all parties to assume responsibility and solve this very serious humanitarian crisis. As for the position of the Church, we know, for example, that the Church in Poland criticizes the government’s handling of this issue and is trying to call on the authorities to apply a more humane and flexible approach».

We welcome Your Excellency’s call to all the parties involved to take responsibility for the crisis. We assume that the Belarusian regime is considered to be one of those parties, and Belarus is viewed as part of the European family. Regrettably, due to mass media’s manipulations, this call has been presented as aiming only at the European Union countries and governments, particularly as Poland was mentioned there explicitly. We would like to request from Your Excellency a more nuanced and clear position on the present crisis, including the role of Aliaksandar Lukašenka’s regime and the heroic efforts of the Belarusian civil society.
We, representatives of the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Churches in Belarus — clergy, theologians and lay activists — understand that the humanitarian crisis at the border of the EU and Belarus would not be possible if the Belarusian authorities adhered to its legal commitments of observing human rights and international obligations in relation to its own citizens, as well as to those who seek refuge in Belarus or abroad.

Due to the lawlessness, injustice and deviation from the basic principles of social state, anyone in Belarus, be it a citizen of the country or refugee, is at risk of humiliation of their human dignity, infringement of their rights, forced disappearance and illegal detention. The government’s resistance to applying basic preventive measures against the Covid pandemic, resistance to offering access to the trustworthy vaccines, banning social activities of NGOs and Churches, persecution of human rights activists and journalists — all these deepen the humanitarian crisis in Belarus and put the country on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

A year ago, the leader of the democratic Belarus, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, sent to the Holy Father Francis her response to his beautiful Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. It envisioned the Belarusian society as one of solidarity, brotherhood and sisterhood. We all in the Belarusian civil society experienced the foretaste of such a society during the solidarity campaigns of 2020. The continuing waves of repressions have badly hit the Belarusian civil society which is like a robbed and violated man on the road to Jericho is hoping for the Good Samaritan. The strength of the civil society has been dented but not its aspiration for solidarity and the commitment to the future where justice and peace prevail. 

We are confident that with the support of the Holy See, both as a prophetic voice of the Christian Church and a trustworthy political institution with access to diplomatic instruments, the Belarusian civil society will be able to make a substantial contribution to solving the current humanitarian crisis in our country in the Christian spirit and with respect to the fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Members of Christian Vision group of the Coordination Council


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