An ethnic Polish activist under arrest in Belarus yesterday began a hunger strike as police began to jail local Poles who attended the weekend visit of a Polish politician.
The tension has been caused by the attempt of the authoritarian government of President Alexander Lukashenko to gain control of the Union of Poles in Belarus, which represents the country's 500,000 Poles - 5 per cent of its population. The organisation is the largest of any type not under government control.
The hunger striker, Andrzej Pisalnik, is an informal spokesman for the group. He was sentenced to 10 to 15 days in jail for taking part in an unauthorised concert on July 3 celebrating Belarus's independence day.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
need money for their legal defence and operating expenses. Please give what you can today! Read more
We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
our factsheets and letters.
Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.