Letter to the Lithuanian authorities in support of Olga Karatch


To:  President Gitanas Nausėda, e-mail: kanceliarija@president.lt or online form at https://www.lrp.lt/en/institution/letter-to-the-president/21930

Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė LRV, e-mail: LRVkanceliarija@lrv.lt

Speaker of Lithuanian Parliament Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, e-mail: viktorija.cmilyte@lrs.lt

Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis, e-mail: minister@urm.lt

Сc:          Our House, e-mail: info@nash-dom.info

Dear President, dear Prime Minister, dear Speaker of Lithuanian Parliament, dear Minister of Foreign Affairs,

I am writing to you because I am concerned about the safety and security of Ms Olga Karatch (Volha Karach), a peacebuilder and human rights defender from Belarus who has sought refuge in your country. Recently, on the 18th of August, the Lithuanian Immigration Authorities rejected her application for political asylum.

Ms Olga Karatch is part of the Belarusian opposition and had to leave her home country in 2020 before the protests against the rigged presidential elections. Her organization “VšĮ Tarptautinis pilietinių iniciatyvų centras „Mūsų namai” is registered in Lithuania since 2014.

Olga Karatch and her organization are fighting for human and civil rights in Belarus and against a possible direct participation of Belarus in the war in Ukraine. For that, they repeatedly have been threatened by the Lukashenko regime. The Belarusian KGB labelled her as a terrorist, and recently there have been death threats against her. If she returned to Belarus, she would face immediate arrest and conviction to many years of prison; even imposition of the death penalty cannot be ruled out.

The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted in 1998 acknowledges ‘the valuable work of individuals, groups and associations in contributing to the effective elimination of all violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of peoples and individuals’.

States have an obligation to protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens, and, especially for human rights defenders who ‘frequently face threats and harassment and suffer insecurity’ ‘to take all measures necessary to ensure the protection of human rights defenders, at both the local and the national levels, including in times of armed conflict and peacebuilding’, as stated in UN General Assembly resolution 66/164.

We express our deep concern that ‘in some instances, national security and counter-terrorism legislation and other measures, such as laws regulating civil society organizations, have been misused to target human rights defenders or have hindered their work and endangered their safety in a manner contrary to international law’, as stated in UN Human Rights Council Resolution 22/6 of 2013 on the protection of human rights defenders, which commits all states to protect and not criminalise those who work to defend human rights.

Therefore, the situation is life threatening for her, and we ask you to extend your support to Ms Karatch and to allow her to stay in Lithuania and continue her work for human rights and peace under the secure status of being granted political asylum.

Yours sincerely,



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