We, the Belarusian Green Party and Ecohome non-governmental organization, express our joint protest against brutal crackdowns on the peaceful demonstrations in Belarus, in particular, during the National Liberty Day, 25 March, 2017, and mass political repressions taking place in Belarus over the last two months. Starting from February 17th hundreds of people in Belarus have been detained, beaten, fined and arrested, including journalists (Belarusian and foreign), human right defenders and observers.
By 20 March about 300 people were detained, during 25-26 March - about 1000 all over Belarus.
Our colleagues, eco activists Ms. Marina Dubina, Ms. Ksenia Maliukova and Ms. Alena Dubovik, were also subjected to political repressions, on 15 March, during a rally that was officially permitted by city authorities. They were detained with unjustified brutality and repeated abuse of the legal process and later have been arrested for 12 and 14 days due to fabricated accusations of ‘hooliganism’.
At the office of Green Party on 24.03.2017 an additional 14 people, who brought some basic supplies for arrested activists, have been taken by police. Among them were journalists, some of them international. The journalists were released later. Uladzimir Valodzin (Vladimir Volodin), Christina Cherniavskaya, Nadezhda Nemic, Alexander Malashkov, Evgeniy Mihaduk were arrested. The homes of Christina Chrnyavskaya and Marina Dubina were searched.
During the brutal crackdown on the peaceful annual rally on National Liberty Day, 25 March in Minsk, 700 people were detained. According to Viasna, detainees included aged, the disabled, journalists and even bystanders who didn’t take part in the demonstration. Before the action 50 observers, lawyers and HR defenders were captured by police officers at the office of HR-center “Viasna”, later most of them were released. The detention sometimes was extremely cruel: observer, HR defender Aleksey Loiko, British journalist Philipe Warwick, aged activist Valery Shukin were violently beaten, Loiko and Shukin were beaten so badly they had to be hospitalized. Warwick was choked and beaten in the police department while in handcuffs; but police refused to call the British embassy.
Some of demonstrators have simply disappeared, hundreds of them have been arrested after detention.
We consider that:
- these latest events in Belarus are evidence that Belarusian authorities are carrying out mass political repressions;
- brutal crackdowns on peaceful demonstrations and the use of force and kidnapping by authorities cannot have any excuse or justification, because they were used, according our observers and HR defenders, against peaceful people, who were not violating the law, who were disabled, doing their work as a journalist or observer and volunteers: as well as against those who were accidentally on the place of event, visiting the grocery store;
- the political character of repression is evidenced in particular by the fact that during legal processes on the detained people the Riot Police staff gave false evidence about the causes of the detention, which served as premises for the court judgments to arrest or fine them;
- the actual situation in Belarus is escalating; Bealrusian powers are using the same methods as in 2006 and 2010 but even worse; the main aim of the Belarusian authorities is to intimidate citizens, but at the moment this is having the opposite effect and could lead to a grave and uncontrolled situation!
- all the protesters remain peaceful, but if the powers continue using force against peaceful citizens and if the World community and influential leaders respond inadequately, the situation may unpredictably change:
we strongly call on European politicians and international organizations:
- to immediately start the dialog with official Minsk to convince it to stop the repressions, rehabilitate all political detainees, and start an equitable and honest dialog with Civil Society of Belarus;
- to this end we request that the European Union and International organizations use effective mechanisms of persuasion on the government in Minsk. These measures should be immediate and strongly influential for Belarusian authorities. Even if these measures are temporary they will help a peaceful resolution of the situation.
We strongly underline that these recent repressions in Belarus are occurring in a context of a reanimation of political dialogue of the U.S and the EU with Belarus after the Belarusian Government released political prisoners a year ago, and economic sanctions against Belarus were lifted.The decision to organize the Meeting of Parties to the Espoo Convention in Minsk was another concession to Belarus on the part of European countries.
We also reiterate our call for international organizations: OSCE PA, the Bureau of the Espoo Convention UNECE to require an unconditional end to repressions, and rehabilitation of all politically repressed as one of the key conditions of the forthcoming meetings. An important condition for future collaborations with official Minsk, in our opinion, should be real liberalization by the Belarusian government. Such liberalization must include concrete steps aimed to dialog with civil society, opportunities for all interested actors to take part in decision-making, democratic elections, and insuring the realization of basic citizen rights such as freedom of expression and the freedom to gather in peaceful meetings.