The unlawful leader of #Belarus, Alexander #Lukashenko, has approved an amendment to the capital punishment law, which allows the death penalty in the cases of "attempted acts of terrorism." The law would go into effect on May 29, and it could affect #activists who are currently on trial. Belarus is the last country in Europe where the death penalty exists; up until now, it was reserved for actual acts of terrorism that resulted in death or brutal murders.
The discussion about the amendment started recently after opposition activists tried to sabotage the deployment of #Russian forces into #Ukraine by dismantling part of the Belarusian railway network.
It is important to remember that Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of free Belarus, was herself investigated for "preparation of an organised act of terrorism." Many other activists who committed acts that could be previously viewed as just hooliganism, for example, covering a car of a state official with paint or throwing a rock at a window of a prosecutor, were also acquitted on the premise of attempted terrorism. This week a trial of 12 opposition activists has started in #Grodno - they are all accused of #terrorism.
The political oppression in Belarus has increased dramatically since the protests in the summer of 2020. According to a Belarusian human rights organisation, Viasna, over 1200 political prisoners are currently there. It is estimated that over 100 000 Belarusians have fled their country since then. Regardless of the harshness of Lukashenko's regime, the Eurostat data for 2021 shows that only five of the European countries - #Poland, #Latvia, #Czech Republic, #Italy, and #Estonia - granted more positive than adverse decisions to Belarusians seeking asylum. Furthermore, the capital punishment reform that targets political activists could trigger another increase in emigration from the country.