On September 16, representatives of the Department of State and of Congress co-hosted a Roundtable on Religious Freedom in Europe and Eurasia. Attending were faith-based and human rights groups, academics, congressional staff, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and others. The roundtable was chaired by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasia Beth Jones; John V. Hanford III, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom; and Congressman Ben Cardin, member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. The session was held at the Dirksen Senate Office building through arrangement with the office of Senator Gordon Smith.
The Belarusian schoolchildren and students are now forced to become pioneers and join the Belarusian Republic’s Youth Union. “Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarusi” received numerous letters from readers, in which they shared their indignation over how their children are against their will being forced to join the afore-mentioned two organizations.
The International Federation of human rights, headquartered in Geneva, expressed its preoccupation over the recent harassment of human rights defenders in Belarus. The statement of the human rights groups reads that the official Minsk filed a lawsuit on the shutdown of the “Vesna” human rights center due to its participation in the independent observation over the course of the presidential elections 2001, when they revealed serious violations of legislation. The Justice Ministry of Belarus stated in return that “Vesna’s” activism exceeds the framework of an NGO’s mandate, reports the Russian service of the Radio “Svaboda”.