Victimized Public Associations File Open Letter to Belarusian Justice Minister
On 10 December, the day when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, the public organizations, victims of the “clear-up”, applied to the Minister of Justice of Belarus Viktar Halavanaw with the demand to retire from his position.
Dear Mr. Minister!
A year ago we, activists of human rights organizations, applied to You with an open letter. In it we expressed our deep concern with the situation concerning registration and activity of public associations in the country and proposed to the Ministry of Justice to elaborate a democratic and transparent order of registration for public associations.
A year ago, at the meeting in the Ministry of Justice that was organized by You as a response to our letter, You assured us that the Ministry of Justice of Belarus and You in person aimed Your work at development of civil society, You emphasized the necessity of constructive interaction of the Ministry and representatives of public associations. In Your speech You paid much attention to defense of human rights. We reached the agreement to hold round tables with participation of representatives of the advocatory board for discussion of issues of legal defense of citizens. Today we can sum up the results of this meeting.
After our last meeting Presidential Decree No. 13 was adopted and enforced. Athwart the demands of Article No. 62 of the Constitution it prohibited participation of public associations in civil trials.
During that time many of the organizations representatives of which participated in the meeting with You, were liquidated by courts on suits of the Ministry of Justice and its regional boards. Since April 13 public associations have been liquidated. Among them there are such large and active regional and republican public associations as Hrodna regional PA "Ratusha", PA "Regional development agency "Varuta", PA "Legal Assistance to Population", Republican PA "Human Rights Center "Viasna", Republican PA "Youth Christian-social Union", Homel regional PA "Civil Initiatives", PA "Center of Youth Initiatives "Kontur", Republican PA "Women's Answer", PA "Belarusian Fund "Kassiapeya", PA "Lutskevich Brothers Fund", etc.
Numerous public organizations of the country received written warnings and are on the brink of liquidation. Among them there are the leading human rights organizations, such as the RPA "Belarusian Helsinki Committee", PA "Independent Society of Legal Research", etc.
The third sector didn't expect such "fruitful cooperation" with the Ministry of Justice.
Public organizations have the right to fulfill their plans and lead their own activity. We want to work in our country without any limitations. We have worked and are going to work in accordance with the legislation of country and the democratic principles.
The contemporary constitutional State is the democratic state that guarantees rights and liberties, participation of the people in execution of the power. Besides, it is a high level of legal and political culture and well-developed civil society. In a constitutional State the possibility to defend ones views and convictions within the limits of the law is provided, which is reflected, for instance, in formation and functioning of political parties and public organizations as well as in the political pluralism and liberty of press.
Viktar Ryhoravich! Today we don't congratulate You with the anniversary of adoption of the Universal declaration of human rights because we are of the opinion that in Your activity You completely ignore and disrespect this important international document.
It was You who have also signed the orders to liquidate public and human rights organizations.
You haven't listened to numerous voices of Belarusian citizens, international and national public associations that demand to stop persecution of public organizations in Belarus.
Neither can stop You the fact that as a result of liquidation of the public organizations hundreds of the country's citizens lost the last moral support.
You insulted our right to liberty of association.
You have become a part of the history as a strangler of public and human rights movement in Belarus.
We state that You, Viktar Ryhoravich as well as such workers of the ministry headed by You as Sukhinin, Kharyton, Fishkina, Shcharbovich, Bondar, etc. are doing the destructive work of suppression of the increasing public activity.
We think that You, as a person who failed to execute its official duties are to retire from the responsible position. Citizens of Belarus will highly appreciate this deed.
10 December 2003