The second film in DW's Guardians of Truth documentary series is about Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who has been fighting against ruler Alexander Lukashenko from exile since 2020.
Turkish journalist Can Dündar traveled with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya for several months, to Vilnius, Vienna, Aachen and Berlin. DW presented the documentary on Friday evening at the Munich Security Conference.
DW Director General Peter Limbourg said at the premiere in Munich: "Most people in the West do not know what it is like to live in exile, not to be able to return to their homeland. That is why our film with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Can Dündar is so important. It also draws attention to the ongoing courageous struggle of the people in Belarus."
Premiere of Guardians of Truth Part Two - from left: DW editor and film director Linda Vierecke, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, DW Director General Peter Limbourg, Can Dündar
Following the film screening, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said that everybody who lives in Belarus is in constant danger of "being arrested, kidnapped, put in prison."
"My husband is on trial again in Belarus. We all know it's a farce, an attempt to put pressure on him to break. But my husband, like all the other political prisoners, is unbreakable," Tsikhanouskaya said. The more than 1,000 prisoners "know that the Belarusian people continue to fight for them. They believe in us, in the international community and that together we will be able, through pressure, through sanctions, through negotiations, to find mechanisms to release our beloved and to free our country from dictatorship."
In the Guardians of Truth series, Can Dündar, former editor-in-chief of the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, who was imprisoned in 2015 for his research into Turkey's arms supplies to Syria, meets exiled journalists, politicians and dissidents around the world. He talks to them about the fate he himself shares with them. Dündar's films show impressive biographies of people who fearlessly stand up for freedom of expression.
Can Dündar: "We live in a time when freedom is threatened in many places in the world. Fortunately, there are also courageous people everywhere who defend this freedom. It is a privilege that we can meet them in this film series."
Can Dündar and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya
In 2015, the Turkish journalist Can Dündar exposed illegal arms deliveries from Turkey to Syria, was called a terrorist by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and fled to Germany after an attack was made on him during his trial. Since then, he has campaigned for freedom of expression worldwide.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is an "involuntary" opposition leader. In 2020, her husband Sergei stood in the Belarusian presidential elections against long-time ruler Alexander Lukashenko, but was detained before election day and later sentenced to 18 years in a prison camp. Tsikhanouskaya briefly took over her husband's candidacy, but left the country with her two children shortly afterwards for security reasons and has since been living in exile in Lithuania. She called for peaceful protests against ruler Lukashenko and is campaigning for the release of political prisoners.
In the current Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders, Belarus ranks 153rd out of 180 countries.
The production is available in six languages on DW Documentary's YouTube channels:
DW Documentary (English) youtube.com/dwdocumentary
DW Documentary (Arabic) youtube.com/dwdocarabia
DW Documental (Spanish) youtube.com/dwdocumental
DW Documentary (Hindi) youtube.com/dwdochindi
DW Doku (German) youtube.com/dwdoku
DW Türkçe (Turkish) youtube.com/dwturkce