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Belarusian opposition leader honours Polish liberty hero in Washington

26.07.2021 10:00
Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has honoured Polish liberty hero Tadeusz Kościuszko during a visit to Washington, news outlets have reported.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Photo: PAP/Anna Ivanova

"We are all Kościuszko," Tsikhanouskaya stated in the US capital on Thursday, referring to international support for the people of Belarus, Polish online newspaper dziennik.pl reported.

She made the statement as she laid flowers at a Washington statue of Kościuszko together with the Polish and Lithuanian ambassadors to the United States.

'Hero that unites'

Tsikhanouskaya said in a tweet later that day that Kościuszko was "a hero that unites Belarus, the United States, Lithuania, and Poland."

She added that the people of Belarus were drawing inspiration from his legacy as they "courageously fight for liberty and freedom."

The Polish embassy in Washington said in a Twitter post that "our nations are united by a shared history and a democratic future."

Shared Polish, Lithuanian, American and Belarusian hero

Polish and Lithuanian lawmakers in February jointly commemorated the 275th birth anniversary of Kościuszko and expressed their solidarity with neighbouring Belarus.

The foreign affairs committees of the Polish and Lithuanian parliaments adopted a joint statement at the time in which they described Kościuszko as a shared Polish, Lithuanian, American and Belarusian hero.

In their statement, they said that Kościuszko "was an outstanding son of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a brave defender of its freedom and rights, and a hero of the American War of Independence."

They added that the legendary military leader "was committed to the ideals of liberty, fraternity, social justice and equality before the law."

The statement noted that Kościuszko was born on February 4, 1746 "in Polesie, once part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which now lies within the borders of Belarus, whose independence is extremely important to us."

The people of Belarus are still being "persecuted for demanding the right to fundamental civil liberties, including, above all, free and fair elections," the statement said.

'Respect for national identity'

It added: “We commemorate Tadeusz Kościuszko, who symbolises the idea of the unification of nations around important matters such as freedom and independence, and respect for national identity. We feel heirs to his legacy, and we know that he is extremely important to many Belarusians.

"We recognise the efforts of our governments to help Belarusians, persecuted and forced to abandon their homeland, and we encourage the search for new and increasingly effective forms of support for the Belarusian people in their struggle for the democratic founding of their country, whose freedom and independence we consider to be of fundamental importance: not only for our regional stability and development, but also for the security of Europe and the transatlantic world.” 

'The purest son of liberty'

Officials and historians in various countries in February paid tribute to Kościuszko to mark 275 years since his birth.

The iconic military commander, who died in 1817 at the age of 71, is widely remembered as a national hero in both Poland and the United States. Many have praised his military exploits and engineering skills.

US founding father Thomas Jefferson called Kościuszko “the purest son of liberty ... that I have ever known, the kind of liberty which extends to all, not only to the rich."

Polish President Andrzej Duda has described Kościuszko as a "patron of Polish liberty" and said that the man’s life, ideas and achievements could be a source of inspiration for both Poles and people around the world.

In 1794, after the second partition of Poland between czarist Russia, Prussia and Austria, Kościuszko led an insurrection against Moscow.

During the American War of Independence, he served as a colonel in the Continental Army. He designed and oversaw the construction of state-of-the-art fortifications, including those at the famous West Point military academy.

He died in Switzerland on October 15, 1817. A year later, his remains were brought to Poland and placed in a crypt at Wawel Cathedral in the southern city of Kraków, a pantheon of Polish kings and national heroes.

Tadeusz Kościuszko na tle planu bitwy pod Dubienką. Tadeusz Kościuszko. Image: Polish Radio/Polona.pl; National Museum in Warsaw (dp)

While in Washington last week for meetings with senior US administration officials, Tsikhanouskaya gave the Biden administration a specific list of targets she would like to see sanctioned as she pushed for the United States and international community to ratchet up pressure on the regime of Belarus' strongman President Alexander Luakshenko, broadcaster CNN reported.


Source: dziennik.plcnn.com