Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights joined in the help for Belarus.
Recently Aliaxandr Lukashenka signed a decree which bans Belarusian organizations to receive foreign technical assistance. Which actions of the Belarusian dictator can be evaluated in the context of the human rights? The Polish Radio asked this question to Prof. Andrzej Zheplinski of Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.
- They, undoubtedly, completely contradict the basic human rights and freedoms, including the ones Belarus is legally bound to observe. Belarus signed the Covenant on Personal and Political Rights, which guarantees the freedom of speech, the freedom of movement, and the Covenant on Economic and Civil Rights. This decree, undoubtedly, contradicts both documents.
In any country authorities may act in violation of these covenants, but these are always separate cases. These are mostly actions or decisions taken by low-level officials.
And here we have a decree issued by the president who in fact rules the country as a dictator. Thus, this is the state-sponsored policy. In no country of Europe the government acts so shamelessly and brutally, violating the basic human rights and freedoms.
-According to the decree, the technical assistance now covers such forms of international cooperation as student exchange, seminars, conferences, research and experience exchange. Mr. Professor, is there anything that can be done to help Belarus? Is there any way of bypassing these bans?
-- I think that one of the forms of assistance will be when a young person comes to Poland to study, they receive a stipend which he should not boast of either to the academic authorities nor the state ones. This in itself looks absurd in the Europe of the 21st century. But they should not tell of this in Belarus. In case they have any problems because of this, this has to be publicized in the media, and simultaneous measures have to be taken, which would protect them.
But what is most important today is for the authorities in this country and in the European Union, OSCE and UN to rebuff such steps undertaken by Belarus. OSCE and UN are two international structures, of which Belarus is a member. They should absolutely decisively struggle for unconditional repeal of such a shameless decree.
-- However, it looks like Aliaxandr Lukashenka, who has already issued such a decree, will not listen to the opinion of the international community. Some suggested economic sanctions be applied against Belarus. On the other hand, these may affect the common people of Belarus, the people Poland wants to help. What is the solution?
-- I think that showing the bumpkin he is a bumpkin should produce an effect. A bumpkin with complexes, a type embodied by Aliaxandr Lukashenka, hopes that no one would poke into his affairs. And every case of such pressure applied by the international community will be psychologically painful to the bumpkin, because it shows that he does not belong there and is not wanted. Apart from that, the rebuff of the world is also observed by the Belarusians themselves, the state officials who see that their country has been pushed to the edge, which weakens the repressive impetus of such regulations.
--Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights joined in the assistance to Belarus. Could you tell us how this assistance looks like and whether the Poles really want to help their eastern neighbors?
-- What I would like to note, and we are quite happy about that, that our fund of legal assistance to those persecuted in Belarus has also received money from many private individuals. Often these are tiny amounts, because some contributed 4 zloty, 9 zloty, 15 zloty, 17 zloty. This shows that the people share what I may refer to as a piece of bread with someone who is in a poor state.
Belarusian non-governmental organizations play a great role in our activities. Nothing in particular may be said as of now. Our help and our efficiency may only be evaluated in the future.
However, we already see the persecuted members of the Union of Poles in Hrodna are in real need of our support. Because if someone comes to KGB or the procurator's office or elsewhere and with a lawyer, they talk to him in quite a different manner. When the lawyer comes into picture, even the psychological situation of such a person is completely different. This is a witness to the conversation. Legal help plays an important part there. (Charter-97)