International League for Human Rights Expresses Concern About Klimov Verdict
President Aleksandr Lukashenko
K. Marx Street, 38
Minsk, Belarus 220016
June 13, 2005
The International League for Human Rights, an international non-governmental organization with special consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council, expresses its profound concern about the continuing repression of political freedom and human rights after the sentencing of Belarusian opposition member and businessman, Andrei Klimov.
Mr. Klimov was charged with disturbing the public peace for his role in organizing an unauthorized demonstration in Minsk on March 25, 2005. Mr. Klimov admitted his participation in the protest, but denied the allegation that the protest hampered government operations or impeded traffic. On June 10, the Minsk Central District Court rendered a guilty verdict and sentenced Mr. Klimov to one and a half years in a correctional labour facility. Mr. Klimov is facing additional charges of libelling you and your administration in his books and articles.
Mr. Klimov was a member of the 13th Belarusian parliament, and has been an irreconcilable opponent of the current administration. In 1998, he was found guilty of embezzlement and forgery and spent four years in prison. Upon his release in 2002, he publicly reaffirmed his commitment to running in the next presidential election, and has, as a result, faced intense scrutiny from your administration.
The League calls on you, President Lukashenko, to end the wholesale assault on pro-democracy forces in Belarus. All Belarusian citizens must be granted the basic rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression and your government must allow political opponents to live and work without fear of persecution by state authorities. Belarus has undertaken commitments to uphold international standards of freedom of expression and assembly by signing agreements such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. These rights are fundamental to democratic civil society in Belarus and should be ensured through the Belarusian judicial system.
Thank you for your attention. We welcome your response.
Senior Program Director