Protest Meeting of Evangelic Christians
On 19 September in Banhalor Square there took a meeting of protest that was organized by the regious association of churches of Full Gospel Christians. Believers from Hrodna, Lida, Barysaw, Vileyka, Mazyr, Asipovichy, Dziarzynsk and other towns and cities of Belarus took part in the action. They protested against the "Law on freedom of conscience" that was adopted by the Chamber of Representatives in June 2002. The believers consider this law discriminative, because it considerably limits the right of citizens to confess any religious views in Belarus. The action participants held the following slogans: "Constitution is the main law!", "The halls we've Been Expelled from are still empty!", "Official is not law, but a people's servant", "Yes to Constitution, no to lawlessness!".
During his speech the pastor of Minsk church of the Union of Full Gospel Christians said that Evangelic churches exprerienced pressure since 1999. At that time Minsk authorities started to force administrations of culture palaces and other institutions that rented the buildings to churches, to break rent agreements with religious associations, referring to presidential decree "About meetings, assemblies and street processions". As a result, all religious communities that didn't have buildings of their own, were left without room for prayers and liturgies.
"Having used this Decree, they joined us to the opposition. Now they refuse to lend buildings to us, saying such use of culture palaces and other halls is banned. Being citizens of our country and juridical persons we feel ashamed by the authorities. We can't work normally and satisfy religious needs of members of our parochials. All our rights are observed only in theory", -- stated V. Hancharenka. Among the speakers there were also the pastor of Minsk Jesus Christ Church Barys Charnahlaz, the pastor of God's Family Church Valery Sheybak, the pastor of New Generation Church in Baranavichy Leanid Varanenka and the head of teh Religious association of Full Gospel Christians Aliaksandr Sakovich. All of them drew numerous facts of illegal persecution of believers, interference of the authorities with the activity of religious communities and pressurization of pastors. At the end of the meeting its participants adopted appeal:
"Provisions of the "Law about freedom of consciense and religious organizatins" not only fail to meet the civil legislation of the Republic of Belarus, but also contradict to international acts in teh field of human rights, introduce discrimination and limitatins to freedom of confession in Belarus. It made us openly state about our disagreement with the law... We apply to the legislative and executive authorities of Belarus with the request to find the mentioned norms of the Law incompatible with the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and international standards in the field of religious freedom and confess that this law in its present editions can't be used in the juridical practice of our country", -- is stated in the open appeal of the believers.