On Tuesday, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė accepted the International Republican Institute's (IRI) John S McCain Freedom Award. In her pre-recorded speech, she called for continuing support for Belarus’ opposition.
“Last year, Lithuania celebrated the 30th anniversary of the restored independence. While the Belarusian nation was once again deprived of its basic right – to cast their votes in the elections and actually have them counted.”
“The legendary patience of Belarusians had worn thin. Hundreds of thousands flooded the streets to demand a change.”
“Tens of thousands of people in Lithuania joined hands again in a Freedom Way to support Belarusians in their struggle [and] to remind everyone of the miracle at the Baltic Sea” when Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuanian broke free from the Soviet Union “and to encourage the people of Belarus to create a miracle of their own”.
“The miracle has not happened, yet. The Iron Curtain that we believed had been torn apart decades ago, once again, fell on the Belarusians with all its intolerable weight and cruelty.”
“They have been beaten, imprisoned, expelled from universities, and fired from their jobs. Some have died for not willing to be humble, obedient, and conformist anymore.”
“Free media and the civil society organisations have been wiped out. Tens of thousands of Belarusians have been exiled.”
“The streets have been forcefully emptied of crowds. But the suffering of the Belarusian people continues. And today they need support of the democratic world more than ever."
"Lithuania is part of that democratic world now. And I’m proud that thousands of Belarusians have found a home away from home in our country. I hope they will return to a free and democratic Belarus, soon."
“I’m proud to be part of the nation that had stood with the people of Belarus long before August 2020, and stands with them today.”
“Not because it’s the government policy, but because when Lithuanians look at the people who fight for democracy and freedom now, we see ourselves, thirty years ago. We remember how we needed to be seen, heard, and not left alone.”