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Protestors gathered at the busy Yonge and Bloor intersection in Toronto to speak out against political oppression and draw attention to the crackdown on protestors in Belarus.
Belarus has been rocked by unrest following the August 9th election in which President Alexander Lukashenko is alleged to have rigged it in his favour, triggering a wave of protests which were met with police violence, widespread arrests, internet blackouts, and strikes. Presenters with the state broadcaster have also walked off the job in protest of censorship after determining they could no longer put a positive spin on current events.
Earlier this week Lukashenko told factory workers who were calling for him to leave "we held the elections and until you kill me, there won't be any new elections."
The protestors flew the red-and-white variant of the Belarusian flag, which was replaced by the red-and-green version when President Lukashenko first came to power in 1994. It has become a symbol of opposition to Lukashenko, and is all but banned in Belarus with its display often leading to arrests.
They commended the fact that the Canadian government has denounced the elections, with Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne referring to them "fraudulent" and calling for "free and fair elections" for Belarus.
Alena Liavonchanka of the Belarusian Canadian Alliance hopes the Canadian government takes it a step further and enacts sanctions against President Lukashenko.
Members of the Iranian, Hong Kong, and Venezuelan communities joined the protest in solidarity due to the political corruption in their own countries. Iranian protestor Salman Sima stated that "The fight for freedom in Belarus, in Lebanon, in Venezuela, in Iran, all over the world, we are all on the same page. We are all for human rights, for freedom, and for democracy."
One protestor criticized the fact that media in the West has been largely silent on the matter. "It’s not in the news, it’s not in the media, and it’s an extraordinary level of violence that is happening in Belarus. Approximately 10,000 people were tortured, like literally tortured."