250 000 signatures collected by Dutch Amnesty International in Support of Human Rights Defenders. Belarusian Embassy Refuses to Accept Signatures and Discuss Human Rights in Belarus
On the occasion of the 10th of December 2003, the day of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the Dutch section of Amnesty International
collected more than 250.000 signatures for the protection of human rights
defenders all over the world. These are those men and women who alone or
together with others promote and protect universally recognized human
rights and fundamental freedoms. In many countries they take great risks in
The signatures were divided into 10 parcels, each of them containing
25.000. On the 24th of February they were taken to The Hague by small
pick-up cars. On each car there was a large box, symbolizing the transport
of a parcel. Texts on the boxes were addressed to several countries where
human rights defenders are under pressure. One of the countries was
One month ago Amnesty had announced to the ambassador, Mr. Vladimir
Gerasimovich, its wish to offer him the signatures. The organisation also
asked for a meeting with him or any other representative of the embassy.
After receiving no answer we phoned the embassy several times and finally
received the message that we were not welcome. However, we decided to
continue our planned action.
On the 24th of February an Amnesty delegation arrived at the Belarussian
embassy at 11.30 AM. The box was put on the sidewalk in front of the
embassy. Unfortunately the representative of the embassy, who opened the
door, refused to accept the petitions. He explained that the facts
mentioned in the publications of Amnesty on Belarus are not true. Therefore
the embassy saw no reason whatsoever to accept the signatures. He also
declared that human rights issues are the “internal affairs” of a country.
When asked if it would be possible to have a discussion on the concerns of
Amnesty International about human rights defenders in Belarus in the near
future, he answered that he was not in a position to comment on this issue.
The members of the delegation put the box back on the truck and left for
Amsterdam. Amnesty Netherlands will of course find another way to bring its
concern and that of 250.000 Dutch citizens under the attention of the