Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 15 July 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence
Situation in Belarus: Discussion with Ms Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya
I concur in welcoming our distinguished guest. I welcome Ms Tsikhanouskaya home. It is great to have her back with us. I salute her courage. We stand solidly in solidarity with her and with the cause of the approximately 550 political prisoners who are being wrongly criminalised and, as the evidence shows, tortured and brutalised. The entire approach to attacking a peaceful protest was shocking to behold. We are completely on Ms Tsikhanouskaya's side. Is she happy with the level of sanctions we have introduced? Are those sanctions sufficiently targeted? One of the fears in respect of arguments against sanctions concerns the possibility of harming ordinary people and not the people those sanctions are targeted at. Hopefully, that is not the case in this instance. I ask Ms Tsikhanouskaya to reassure us of that.
How much fuel is left in the tank, for want of a better term? How well will Ms Tsikhanouskaya be able to keep this endeavour going and maintain popular support? From listening to Ms Tsikhanouskaya, it sounds as if she is confident. Is she confident that popular support will remain? We pray that it will. It takes immense courage. Finally, I also understand that the economy of Belarus has suffered greatly. I ask Ms Tsikhanouskaya to comment on that aspect. I am also proud to have sponsored a prisoner as part of the campaign undertaken here. It is important that we support Ms Tsikhanouskaya. We do and I am here in solidarity with her. I have spoken on this issue in the Seanad and I will continue to do so. I thank Ms Tsikhanouskaya for being here and I thank the Chair for the opportunity to contribute. Others also want to express their solidarity.