Yesterday in Warsaw, a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council, Maria Kalesnikava, was awarded the “Spirit of Jan Karski” prize for the protection of human rights. 

– Kalesnikava is one of the heroes of the great peaceful struggle for freedom in Belarus. It is difficult to imagine a more worthy owner of this award. We decided to recognize Kalesnikava’s steadfast resistance and her courage to demand civil rights for persecuted activists, said the British historian, founder of the Ian Karsky Educational Foundation, Professor Timothy Garton-Ash

Maria’s sister Tatyana Khomich came to receive the award. During the presentation of the award, Maria’s sister told about the situation in Belarus, about the persecution of Maria Kalesnikava’s lawyers, and about political prisoners: 

– Even our father is not allowed to see Maria. Sometimes letters do not reach her for 3-4 weeks. She faces up to 12 years in prison. Imagine that there are more than 500 such stories in Belarus, – said Tatiana. – What surprises and inspires me and millions of Belarusians and people from all over the world is that even after 9 months behind bars, Maria does not cease to be herself. Maria is a musician. There is no music in the prison, and this is real torture for her. She represents music in her heart. Maria is a politician. She continues to inspire Belarusians with her firm conviction that sooner or later Belarusians will achieve change.

The Jan Karski Prize, a member of the Polish Resistance Movement, recognizes the special merits of people in the field of protecting human rights and dignity, combating racism, protecting ethnic and religious groups and sovereign nations in order to build an open and tolerant society.

The award ceremony is available here.

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