Volha Harbunova

Volha Harbunova

“Courage is the ability to act in big and small ways every day, despite fear and pain, and to remain compassionate in the face of evil. Courage is when you care.”

Volha Harbunova is a Belarusian human rights defender who has dedicated her life to advocating for the rights of women, children, the LGBTQI+ community, and other marginalized groups in Belarus. In the wake of the fraudulent 2020 elections in Belarus, Ms. Harbunova was imprisoned by the Lukashenka regime after organizing women’s marches and, while in prison, suffered psychological torture from the authorities and death threats for helping abused women. After her release, Ms. Harbunova fled Belarus, certain of continued repression, and in exile in Lithuania joined the cabinet of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the Belarusian democratic movement. As the Representative for Social Issues, her mandate includes advocating for the release of political prisoners, providing support to former political prisoners and their families, and promoting psychosocial support to the Belarusian community in exile. As former head of the NGO Radislava, which was ultimately shuttered by the Lukashenka regime, Ms. Harbunova was a pioneering activist in support of victims of domestic violence and for twenty years operated one of the only shelters for children and women in Belarus.

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