28 March 2017, Tuesday, 5:20

“European Belarus” demands immediate release of all political prisoners

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“European Belarus” civil campaign demands the international community to impose the harshest political and economic sanctions against the usurper, and unconditional immediate release of all political prisoners.

It was stated on January 5 at a press-conference in Warsaw by “European Belarus” coordinator Zmitser Barodka.

The dictatorship has unleashed a real war against political opponents and the entire civil society of Belarus. After the election more than 700 persons were put into prison, leaders of “European Belarus” campaign Andrei Sannikov and Zmitser Bandarenka, as well as presidential candidates Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu, Mikalai Statkevich and Ales Mikhalevich, campaign managers, democratic activists and journalists are incarcerated in the KGB pre-trial centre. Searches and interrogations of activists are held all over the country. It is obvious that the task had been set to eradicate all real political forces of the country able to withstand the dictatorship.

We address leaders of the European Union, the US and the entire world to effectively offer rebuff to the unabashed dictator who had ventured too far. Only imposing harsh political and economic sanctions can stop the flywheel of repression. We urge to prevent trade in hostages and push for unconditional release of the arrested leaders of the nation and all political prisoners.

We also urge to give the floor at the special session of the European Parliament on January 12 to representatives of the presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov: Irina Bogdanova (Andrei Sannikov’s wife) and Natalya Kalyada (the Belarus Free Theatre director and coordinator of the global campaign of solidarity with Belarus).

We call upon the entire world to turn attention to the key steps to exert pressure on the dictator:

1. Unconditional release of all political prisoners.

As of January 3 about 30 persons are under an accusation of the so-called mass riots (candidates for presidency, campaign chiefs, journalists and activists). Some of them are in KGB jail, and some have given a written undertaking not to leave the place. They face an imprisonment for up to 15 years.

Lukashenka practices “hostages’ trade”. We find this bargaining immoral. Paying ransom for hostages provoke new arrests and crackdown on the civil society.

2. Non-recognition of the election results.

Numerous facts demonstrate that the results of the vote had been falsified. Independent observers and members of candidates’ teams in fact were shut out from the vote count. Vote count was carried out by people depending on the authorities. The main mechanism of falsifications was early voting (23.1% of voters took part in the early voting).

3. Imposing economic and political sanctions.

Over the 16 years of Lukashenka’s rule he has proved to be a deceitful politician impossible to make an agreement with. Only harsh economic and political sanctions by the EU and US can make him stop crackdown and look for a compromise. Visa ban and freezing bank accounts of the dictator’s officials are unable to undermine the regime in Belarus significantly. Analogous sanctions on the part of Russia should be pushed for. In fact Russia continues to subsidize the Belarusian regime.

4. The voice of Belarusian democratic leaders in the European Parliament.

During the hearings on Belarus in the European Parliament on January 12, 2011 the opinion of the leaders of the pre-democracy movement (candidates for presidency) who are imprisoned, could be failed to be sounded. We would like a representative of one of the leaders of the presidential campaign, Andrei Sannikov, to address the hearings (Iryna Bagdanava, Sannikov’s sister). Besides, presence of the Belarus Free Theatre director Natalya Kolyada, the main spokesperson of the global international campaign of solidarity with Belarus, supported by Vaclav Havel, Steven Spielberg, Mick Jagger, Jude Law, Jeremy Irons, Tom Stoppard, Ian McKellen and other world-renowned personalities, is necessary.

5. Consideration of the issue of abducted Belarusian politicians in the UN Security Council.

In August 2010 leaders of the Belarusian opposition addressed the United Nations Security Council with a request to institute international investigation into abductions of prominent Belarusians. The address was sent to foreign ministers of the permanent members of the Security Council: China, Russia, the Great Britain, France and the US. Consideration of this issue should be insisted upon, and a special commission for investigation is to be set.

The text of the letter: http://charter97.org/en/news/2010/8/6/31138/

6. Support of the civil society, democratic movement and independent mass media.

The recent reprisals in Belarus show that the dictatorship has set a goal of total eradication of dissent in the country. Democratic politicians’ families, activists, journalists, lawyers are imprisoned, searched, threatened. Computers are seized, people have to run away from Belarus upon pain of imprisonment. Without support of the democratic world Belarusian civil society is bound to meet a crushing defeat.