The issue of extending the OSCE mandate in Minsk will be considered at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Standing Committee in Vienna, December 11, as Eberhard Heyken informed “Interfax”. The diplomat believes that “the office of the organization is required in Minsk”. The OSCE Minsk office started its work on January 1. The mandate provides assistance to the government in the institutional sector, enforcing law superiority and developing a civil society according to the OSCE principles.
The Supreme Economic Court did not satisfy “The New Smarhon Paper’s” appeal to the Ministry of Information with a request to cancel the assigned three months’ suspension. The order was signed by Minister Rusakevich on November 2. The publisher Ramuald Ulan and other co-editors think that after publishing is resumed on January 2 2004, the Ministry of Information can suspend it again. It will lead to an automatic re-registration, which is unlikely to happen. So that the Court’s decision will be appealed.
Dear Mr. Lukashenko, The International League for Human Rights, an international non-government organization with a consultative status at the United Nations ECOSOC strongly condemns the recent decision by the Belarusian Supreme Court to shut down Ruka Pomoshchi (Helping Hand), a prominent charitable organization which provides assistance to current and former convicts. The League also deplores your government’s relentless persecution of Belarus’ NGO community, political opposition and independent media, specifically the latest steps against Narodnaya Volya, the Belarusian Social Democratic Party Narodnaya Hramada, and the recently issued Decree No. 28, which threatens the future of NGOs.
According to the UN Higher Commissioner on Refugees, in the first 9 months of year 2003 321,700 people appealed to 29 industrially developed countries with a request to provide them political asylum. 23,700 of the applicants were Russians. On the second place is Iraq (21,600), the third- Serbia and Montenegro (18,400). The top ten includes also Turkey, China, Afghanistan, Somali, Nigeria, India and Pakistan. Georgia is on the 14 place (5,600), Ukarine-18(4,000), Armenia-22(3,800), Moldova-23(3,560), Azerbaijan-33(2,600), Belarus-36(2,560), reports Washington Profile. In 2003 applicants appealed more often to the UK and USA authorities.
President Mohammad Khatami here Tuesday voiced Tehran`s readiness to promote all-out cooperation with Belarus. In a meeting with visiting Speaker of the Lower House of Belarussian Parliament Vadim Popov, President Khatami stressed that the two countries share identical views regarding several international developments. Both Tehran and Minsk are against interference of foreign forces in domestic affairs of countries.
BELARUS STRONGMAN TIGHTENS RULES ON FOREIGN AID TO NGOS
In yet another serious blow to civil society in Belarus, the Lukashenko regime imposed a new obstacle to carrying out activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the country. On November 28, the Belarusian authoritarian ruler issued Decree No. 24 “On Receiving and Use of Foreign Humanitarian Aid,” which “further develops the provisions” of Decree No. 8 on “Several Measures on Improving Distribution and Use of Foreign Humanitarian Aid,” originally issued on March 12, 2001, reported BelTA. The notorious No.8 essentially banned foreign donations to local NGOs involved in any political activities or even election monitoring, and was universally condemned by local and international human rights community (see Belarus Update, Vol. 4, Nos. 11-14).