European parliamentarians and human rights organizations demand the abolition of the World Hockey Championship in Minsk.
«As the official opening of the Ice Hockey World Championship in Stockholm is near, we take this opportunity to bring up again The International Ice Hockey Federation’s decision to let Belarus host the next IIHF World Championship in 2014. This decision allows the World Championship to take place in a country marred by human rights violations, contrary to what we believe are the values of IIHF», - said they in joint statement.
They urge the IIHF and the representatives of the national IIHF member organisations to support the victims of human rights violations by removing the 2014 IIHF World Championship from Belarus at the next meeting of the IIHF General Congress in Stockholm in May 2013.
«The country is ruled by President Aleksander Lukashenko whose prisons currently hold at least 11 political prisoners. Among them we find Nobel Peace Prize nominee and human rights defender Ales Bialiatski and members of the political opposition. In Belarus, elections are falsified, free media is suppressed, and youth are harassed and persecuted for their opinions.
We do not want to turn a sports event into a political spectacle. Unfortunately, we are convinced that is exactly how Aleksander Lukashenko will use the event. To host the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship is an honor for any ice-hockey-loving nation; unfortunately, it also poses a great opportunity for Aleksander Lukashenko to shed a positive light on himself and his regime.
We believe that by allowing the 2014 World Championship to take place in Belarus, you support and legitimize a regime which violates the human rights of the people of Belarus in an alarming way. You would be playing with a dictator. The IIHF World Championship should only take place in Belarus after the Government of Belarus has proven progress in the field of human rights, most importantly by releasing all political prisoners», - they said.
The statement was signed by Norwegian Helsinki Committee (Norway), Libereco – Partnership for Human Rights (Germany), Östgruppen – Swedish Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (Sweden), Freedom House (United States of America), Human Rights in Belarus (Germany), Civic Belarus (Czech Republic), Kharkiv Human Rights Group (Ukraine), Gefangenes Wort (Germany)
Liberal International (United Kingdom), Info Belarus (Sweden), Norwegian Young Christian Demorats (Norway), Marek Migalski (Member of European Parliament), Werner Schulz (Member of European Parliament), Peter Stastny (Member of European Parliament), Manuel Sarrazin (Member of German Bundestag), Marieluise Beck (Member of German Bundestag), Caroline Szyber (Member of Swedish Parliament).