Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union calls for an end to the Repressions in Belarus


Public Statement from the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union  (issued before the very latest events)

In Belarus persecution is continuing of those taking part in peaceful protest against election fraud during the Presidential elections. According to Belarusian human rights activists, around 400 people have already been arrested. People are detained while heading for the square where 35 tents have already been erected, or when they leave. The Belarusian Association of Journalists reports that between 14 and 23 March 20 journalists were charged with administrative offences, with the overwhelming majority being sentenced to periods of custodial arrest.

People are also being detained as they make their way to Minsk. They then face administrative prosecution. The trials are held both in the capital and in other cities. In Vitebsk on 22 March 12 activists were prosecuted, including a press photographer for the non-state newspaper “Vitebsky kuryer” [“Vitebsk Herald”].  For “taking part in unsanctioned actions” those detained have received custodial sentences of between 5 and 10 days, or have been fined. These same sentences were earlier passed down in Minsk.

Aleksandr Milinkevich’s Press Service reported that on Thursday morning the Deputy Head of Milinkevich’s headquarters was savagely beaten by two unidentified individuals while leaving his home. On 23 March the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that after the end of the opposition meeting in the centre of Minsk, those taking part would face administrative measures.

On 21 March Belarusian court officers made an inventory of the property of the human rights organization Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BHC), the last legal human rights organization in Belarus. The Deputy Head of the Organization, Garry Pogonyailo, says that the inventory was carried out on the eve of a court ruling expected to bind the Committee to pay taxes and economic fines to the figure of 155 million Belarusian roubles (approximately 72 thousand US dollars) on grants received from international donors. A criminal case related to this has been lauched against the Head of the Committee, Tatyana Protko, who could face between 2 and 7 years imprisonment.

The Belarusian authorities are flagrantly violating fundamental civil liberties, the right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and of association. These are rights which Belarus has agreed to honour as a signatory to the UN International Pact on Civil and Political Rights. Without observance of these rights, one cannot speak of fair and just elections.

We demand that the authorities put a stop to political repression in Belarus!

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