The US and EU co-ordinate the fight against the Belarusian regime


The U.S. and EU co-ordinate the fight against the Belarusian regime

13:51, — Politics

Statement on Belarus “One Year Later” delivered by Ambassador Ian Kelly to the Permanent Council, Vienna.

- Just three days before he died, Vaclav Havel wrote a letter to political prisoners in Belarus - Andrei Sannikov, Mikola Statkevich, Mikalaj Autukhovich, Zmitser Bandarenka, Ales Byalyatski, Zmitser Dashkevich, Eduard Lobau, and Paval Seviarynets. In is letter, former President Havel promised that he and his friends would use every opportunity to alert the international community to human rights abuses in Belarus. Unfortunately, Vaclav Havel cannot carry out his promise. His friends can and will however, and we count the United States among this number.

Monday, December 19, marked the one year anniversary of the flawed presidential election in Belarus and the start of the Belarus Government’s brutal crackdown on civil society, political opposition and independent media. Over the past 12 months, Belarusian authorities have imprisoned peaceful demonstrators, suppressed non-violent protests, and worked to silence independent voices. The government has passed amendments to legislation that will greatly increase limitations on the fundamental freedoms of assembly and association. There have also been credible reports of degrading and inhumane treatment of political prisoners. Although a number of them have been released, they remain under the strict control of the government.

Monday saw a continuation of this repressive activity, now into its second year. Dozens of citizens were arrested by unidentified security forces, some violently, for lighting candles of hope. At least 28 have been convicted on administrative charges.

Preventive detentions were conducted, including that of former presidential candidate Vital Rymasheuski and Syarhey Kazakou, an activist of the European Belarus civil campaign.

Former presidential candidate Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu and journalist Iryna Khalip, the wife of presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, were sent summons to appear at the corrections department by 6pm on Monday.

Three Ukrainian activists from the women’s movement FEMEN went missing Monday evening in Belarus after staging a protest near Minsk's KGB headquarters. Their Australian colleague, a journalist, was arrested and later deported to Lithuania, and at least two local journalists covering the protest were arrested and later released without charges but their equipment was seized.

According to the FEMEN activists, the three were apprehended by Belarusian police and KGB officers at a Minsk bus station. They were blindfolded, handed over to another group, and driven all night to a wooded area near the Ukrainian border. They were brought into the woods, doused with oil and were made to undress. Their abductors threatened to set them on fire and also threatened them with a knife, which was later used to cut their hair.

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The mission of the "FEMEN" movement is to create the most favourable conditions for the young women to join up into a social group with the general idea of the mutual support and social responsibility, helping to reveal the talents of each member of the movement.

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