By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Security forces in Belarus have launched a new crackdown on people protesting against the country’s long-time president Alexander Lukashenko who has refused to step down after a disputed election. Police in Belarus’s capital detained more than 100 people who assembled for a protest march Saturday after detaining hundreds since Thursday.
The demonstrators in Minsk demanded President Lukashenko’s resignation as he ruled this nation for 26 years. Critics have described the president as Europe’s last dictator. They claim he strongly repressed opposition and independent news media.
Protests began in August after the controversial vote gave President Lukashenko a sixth term in office. Presidential candidate Svetlana Thikhanovskaya was forced to flee to Lithuania after she claimed to have won the ballot.
She said supporters of the political opposition seek to revive the wave of mass protests that gripped Belarus for months last year. “Belarus has woken up. Hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the streets of towns and villages to say [to the president]: ‘Go away,'” she explained.
“Thousands of workers have called for strikes to say: ‘Enough is enough. Enough of the lies, enough of intimidating people, enough of lawlessness and violence,” the opposition leader added.
“Political prisoners should be released. And the elections should be conducted again in a free, honest, and transparent way,” Thikhanovskaya stressed.
It isn’t easy. During the first sizable anti-government protests of 2021, more than 200 people were detained Thursday. Five journalists were reportedly among those arrested. Four were later released, but it was not clear if the fifth, the editor of the popular newspaper Nasha Niva, faced charges.
Some journalists arrested while covering last year’s protests were sentenced to two years in prison. Catholic church leaders are among those expressing concern about the situation in the country.
It remains unclear whether opposition supporters will revive the massive post-election protests, the largest and most persistent show of opposition the former Soviet republic has seen. Some rallies attracted as many as 200,000 people.
But with more than 33,000 people arrested and many beaten by police since last year, the opposition faces an uphill battle to make its case for change. Amid the standoff, Belarus was disqualified in recent days from the Eurovision Song Contest for twice fielding songs deemed to have broken the competition’s rules. The band, Galasy ZMesta, is known for mocking anti-government protests.
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.