In Belarus, the large-scale persecutions of civil society representatives because of the annual rallies devoted to the Freedom Day are lasting. According to various sources, only on March 25, about 1,000 people were detained in Minsk.
Law enforcement agencies of Belarus arbitrarily detained activists, human rights defenders, journalists and even bystanders. On March 25, riot police officers blocked the work of the “Viasna” human rights center and arrested about 57 human rights activists and volunteers, who watched the rallies. Oleg Gulak, Head of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Maria Shyschenkova, a representative of the international organization Frontline Defenders, Raisa Mikhailovskaya, Head of the Belarusian Documentation Center, Yevheniia Andreiuk, a co-coordinator of the Ukrainian Public Organization KrymSOS, Palina Brodik, a human rights activist, and others were among the detained.
The persecutions of citizens of Belarus because of the expression of their opinions and participation in the peaceful assembly are unacceptable and violate international standards of human rights.
We, representatives of human rights organizations in Ukraine, express solidarity with the civil society of Belarus and request from the Belarusian authorities:
– to immediately stop the prosecution of peaceful assemblies’ participants;
– to release all illegally detained persons, participants of rallies, activists, human rights observers, and journalists;
– to stop the illegal practice to obstruct freedom of assembly and expression;
– not to interfere in observation and human rights missions’, some human rights activists’ and independent monitors’ work;
– not to interfere with journalistic activities.
We appeal to the international organizations regarding the need to draw maximum attention to the events in Belarus, in particular, the administrative and criminal cases that have been initiated against activists and to use all possible mechanisms to prevent politically motivated harassment of civil society representatives in Belarus.
We appeal to OSCE with the recommendation to extend the force of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism on Belarus and to consider transferring the OSCE PA session to be held in Minsk in July 2017.
Olha Skrypnyk, the Crimean Human Rights Group
Arkadiy Bushchenko, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Oleksandr Matviichuk, the Center for Civil Liberties
Tetiana Pechonchyk, the Human Rights Information Center
Mariia Tomak, the Media Initiative for Human Rights
Yevhen Zakharov, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Photos – svaboda.org (RFE/RL)