The public action was staged simultaneously in an unprecedented amount of cities, accentuating the fact that youth is willing – and can – act across the borders of Europe and demonstrating the existence of a supranational civil society and international solidarity.
“Youth from every corner of Europe are on the streets tonight to demand a democratic, free and united Europe.” explained Åsa Gunvén, Vice-President of Young European Federalist (JEF), who spent the night gagging statues in Lisbon.
“I went out this night to show my support for the suppressed citizens of Belarus. It is incredible to know that at this very minute, young people in over 60 different cities across Europe, and even the US and Canada, are jointly doing the same symbolic action to demand a free and democratic Belarus. This is European integration and international solidarity in action! It is time for Europe’s leaders to also exchange words for action and take an active part in changing the reality for our muzzled European neighbours. A message shouted loud and clear in 60 cities across the borders of Europe must not be neglected” continued Åsa Gunvén.
In Belarus, meetings of more than 10 people at a time and the existence of NGOs have been made illegal since last year. Freedom of speech is severely limited with journalists and opposition being persecuted and all use of internet is being monitored by the authorities. In the past two months arrests of civilians, opposition and civil society activists alike has increased. Last year JEF gagged hundreds of prominent statues in 23 European cities just prior to the dubious “elections” in a protest against the Belarusian regime and to show support for the Belarusian civil society. This action was also an eye-opener for the European public.
“Europeans must open their eyes for the situation inside Belarus, a country where opposition is met by violence and civil society activists like us are increasingly being placed under arrest. JEF has committed to stage this action every year on the anniversary of Lukashenka’s dubious elections until the day Europe’s last dictatorship falls. We can not sit still and just watch while our European neighbors are living in a literal nightmare.” concluded Åsa Gunvén.
This press release is also available in Russian, Belarussian, French and German at JEF Europe webiste www.jef.eu
Photos from the action can be found at the following web addresse: http://www.jef.eu/index.php?id=1639&tx_lzgallery_pi1[showUid]=101
The action also took place last year in 23 cities across Europe at the time of the Belaruselections – more info here.
This year the action took place simultaneously in the following countries and cities:
Belgium: Brussels and Loewen
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Sarajevo
Bulgaria: Sofia and Varna
Czech Republic: Prague
Denmark: Aalborg, Århus, Copenhagen and Odense
Finland: Helsinki and Oulu
France: Bordeaux, Nancy, Paris, Strasbourg and Lyon
Germany; Berlin, Chemnitz, Freiburg and Jena
Italy: Florence, Rome and Campania
Poland: Warsaw, Wrclaw, Poznan, Gorzów, Gdansk, Bialystok, Krakow and Wielkoposki
Portugal: Lisbon, Porto and Matosinhos
Spain: Barcelona and Madrid
Sweden: Stockholm, Lund, Gothenburg, Malmö, Borås and Skövde
Ukraine: Kiev and Lviv
United Kingdom: Edinburgh, York, Leeds and Nottingham
Press contact: Åsa Gunvén, Vice-President of JEF-Europe, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile: +351 96045 39 44