Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle calls Belarusian move to revoke citizenship ‘repugnant’

Pringle calls Belarusian move to revoke citizenship ‘repugnant’

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, has said the Belarusian government’s move to revoke citizenship “should be opposed by any right-thinking person,” in remarks to the Council of Europe.

Addressing the Council on Tuesday, Deputy Pringle also used his speaking opportunity to call for the release of Julian Assange.

Deputy Pringle said: “In relation to the Council of Europe, it can be seen that Belarus applied for membership in 1993 but as yet has not been accepted. Indeed, PACE (the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) decided to suspend the Belarusian parliament’s special guest status in 2009 and it has not yet been lifted and will only be considered if the death penalty is lifted in Belarus.

“The Belarusian government’s recent move to have citizenship revoked that was enacted in January of this year is perhaps one of the most repugnant moves taken by a government that is totally against human rights. To create stateless people is in contradiction to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and should be opposed by any right-thinking person.

“The fact that it has not been carried out yet is immaterial, as it will have a chilling effect on people who wish to oppose the regime. It is important that member states of the Council of Europe are ready to act in relation to stateless people to ensure that they do not remain so,” he said.

The deputy addressed challenges of Belarusians in exile at the Council’s summer plenary session in Strasbourg on Tuesday, during a debate on Assessing the functioning of the partnership for democracy. Deputy Pringle is a member of the Unified European Left in the Council.

The deputy said: “The resolution states that ‘it is important that their host countries do their utmost to ensure that they can stay legally and are welcomed in dignified conditions respectful of their fundamental rights’. Surely that is the least that people should be entitled to wherever they come from – Belarus or any state that its citizens are fleeing persecution or being forced into migration.

“We have been addressed today by Madame Tsikhanouskaya, who is a representative of the Belarusian opposition, and while I don’t have any problem with opposition to the regime in Belarus per se, it does seem to me that the Belarusian situation is being used as a proxy to get at Russia because of the war, and perhaps the elevated status that Belarus has is because of the side it has taken in the conflict, but then perhaps I am being too cynical by far.

“I look forward to the day when we will be addressed by the leader of Palestine about the need to provide for the needs of Palestinian refugees or by the leader of the Kurds in Syria and why they should be supported by this organisation.

“But the Belarusian opposition need to use whatever opportunities arise to pursue their agenda and that is understandable to me. They cannot be held responsible for the failings of the Council of Europe,” he said.

Deputy Pringle concluded by saying: “I would also like to take this opportunity to call for the release of Julian Assange as well.”