AN award-winning poet who was held as a political prisoner in the horrific crackdown on the democracy protests in Belarus is to perform at the Scottish Parliament.

The aim is to shine a light on how the people of Belarus are continuing to resist the dictatorship, risking their freedom and their lives so a new nation can be built.

Hanna Komar, right, who was arrested during the protests, is part of the new production from theatre company ice&fire’s long-running Actors for Human Rights project, which focuses on the 2020 election crisis in Belarus and its fallout.

The piece will premiere in Edinburgh at the Scottish Parliament at the end of this month and then be staged at the Scottish Storytelling Centre before being made available for touring around the UK.

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It is hoped the exiled leader of the Belarusian democratic movement, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, will be in Edinburgh for the premiere.

A partnership with The People’s Consulate of Belarus in Scotland, the new dramatic work tells the stories of people whose lives were changed forever in Belarus in 2020 after the rigged presidential election that saw Alexander Lukashenko, above, extend his 27-year rule.

Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians took to the streets in protest, resulting in the most widespread and violent crackdown of Lukashenko’s reign, with thousands of peaceful protesters arrested, tortured and killed at the hands of the security forces.

Those jailed include vlogger Sergei Tikhanovsky, who was sentenced to 18 years, footballer and sports journalist Aliaksandr Ivulin, caged for two years, and flautist Maria Kolesnikova, who has been jailed for 11 years.

“They are not criminals but citizens of their country who want it to be set free of pain, absurd autocracy and dictatorship,” said Irina McLean from The People’s Consulate of Belarus in Scotland. “It is our pain. Every Belarusian feels it and this amazing opportunity to share it with others should help us to heal. This production will help us to tell our story. The story of our fight.”

Komar will play herself in the production. She is currently based in the UK, where she has been studying for a MA in Creative Writing at the University of Westminster.

The piece also tells the story of Kira, who was arrested because of her activities as a volunteer supporting the families of political prisoners.

She was held for six months, during which time she gave birth in a prison cell to a baby. She was not given any medical attention, despite having a disability due to a kidney condition. The baby was premature and stillborn.

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Another activist featured is Galina Latypova, who works at the University of Aberystwyth as a plant breeding molecular biologist, but who was in Belarus during the aftermath of the elections which saw her beloved nephew Stepan Latypova arrested for protesting and jailed for eight years.

“While the protests across Belarus attracted the attention of the world in August 2020, the cameras have now moved on,” said ice&fire artistic director Christine Bacon.

“However, the people of Belarus continue to resist and risk their freedom and their lives with the aim of removing the Lukashenko regime so a new nation can be built. With this new script, we invite audiences to listen to stories from the people at the heart of this struggle and ask themselves what they can do in solidarity with the people of Belarus.”

All cast members are from Belarus and their lives and those of their families have been profoundly affected by the events of 2020. Cast members Mitya Savelau and Nastasya Korablina have recently worked with Belarus Free Theatre, the only theatre in Europe banned by its government on political grounds.