From 17 February, 2017 a new wave of widespread political repression has been taking place in Belarus (documented by Belrusian and international human rights observers and the media).
Hundreds of people have been detained, beaten, fined and arrested, including journalists (Belarusian and foreign), human rights observers and lawyers.
Up to the 20 March 2017, over 300 people have been detained. On 15 March, Eco activists Marina Dubina, Ksenia Maliukova and Alena Dubovik from Ecohome, a green NGO, were violently arrested at a officially approved rally, and held in custody in contravention to legal requirements and later arrested on fabricated charges of ‘hooliganism’.
The Belarusian Green Party provided support for those detained by being a collection point for basic supplies. On 24 March 14 people were taken from the Greens office by police including Board Member Christina Chrnyavskaya. Ms Chrnyavskaya and 10 others were then arrested and held in custody for between 12 to 15 days. Ms Chrnyavskaya's home was searched along with that of the green NGO director Marina Dubina.
On 25-26 March, over 1000 people across Belarus were detained including over 700 people at a peaceful rally on Liberty day (Dzen Voli). According to Viasna, a Belarusian human rights organisation, detainees included the elderly, people with disabilities, journalists, bystanders who didn’t take part in the rally, and even Viasna staff and volunteers.
HR defender Aleksey Loiko, British journalist Philipe Warwick, and 75 year old activist Valery Shukin were violently beaten. Loiko and Shukin were so badly beaten they had to be hospitalized. Warwick was choked and beaten in the police station while in handcuffs. Despite requests, the police refused to call the British embassy.
On March 31, offices of the independent TV Channel, Belsat, were raided by the police, and computers, audio visual equipment and documents were confiscated.
In addition, the Belarusian Green Party believe authorities are using the fight against terrorism as a justification for the repression of peaceful activists, NGOs, and the free media.
- the Belarusian authorities' brutal crackdowns on peaceful demonstrations, and their use of force, illegal detention and fabricated evidence to intimidate citizens, is not acceptable;
- these recent repressions in Belarus are occurring in the context of the resumption of political dialogue between Belarus and the U.S and the EU following the release of political prisoners a year ago, and the lifting of economic sanctions; and
- the decision to hold in Belarus the 26th annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in July 2017, and the Espoo Convention Meeting of Parties in June 2017.
The Global Greens urge the Belarusian authorities to:
- immediately and unconditionally release all those still in custody following their detention during peaceful protests, or in the course of their lawful daily activity;
- end the persecution of civil society activists, human rights advocates, journalists and opposition politicians;
- conduct a thorough investigation into the use of violence against protesters and detainees (in compliance with the country’s international commitments);
- allow full access by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus to all relevant information; and
- commit to concrete and systemic human rights reforms in consultation with the public.
The Global Greens also call on EU institutions, EU Member States and international organisations to:
- make future cooperation with the Belarusian government conditional on progress in the field of human rights;
- provide support to civil society in Belarus to document human rights violations and provide assistance to the victims of illegal persecution; and
- support the extension of the mandate for the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus at the Human Rights Council session to be held in June 2017.