Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad is handing a camel-load of cash to Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, while Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran stands nearby, rather politely looking sideways. This cartoon, released under Creative Commons license by Belarusians in Exile, a human rights group, is another installment in the series aimed at bringing public attention to the human rights crisis in Belarus.
«The subject of the cartoon, while exaggerated, is still accurate,» says Ilya Lushnikov, Belarusians in Exile communications director. «According to the media and political data, Belarus is now acting as a money laundering mechanism for dictators. Syrian and Iranian trade is taking place via Belarus in order to avoid sanctions, and many banking institutions in the country are owned or controlled by Iran and Syria,» adds Lushnikov.
Many human rights and humanitarian organizations as well as politicians have appealed to the US and European Union to ban trade with Belarusian companies owned by the Lukashenko regime, and some sanctions have been put in place. However, according to the recently-released data, trade between EU and Belarus is on the rise.
«We are appealing to the U.S. government as well as the EU to review their current sanctions against Lukashenko and consider expanding them to stop financing the Belarusian dictatorship that continues to destroy all democratic institutions in the country,» says Lushnikov.
«We are working with the governments on both sides of the Atlantic to bring attention to the issue, but we are thrilled to employ cartoons too – Lukashenko and his government have become cartoonishly dictatorial. The cartoons are released under Creative Commons license and are free to any use.»
Belarusians in Exile is a US-based non-profit group working to stop political repressions in Belarus and around the world.