Government Confiscates Property of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee
Minsk - Vienna, 5 December 2005. Belarusian officials removed property including a computer, fax machine, and other necessities from the office of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee on 5 December 2006. The Committee, which is the last nation-wide human right organization still legally registered in Belarus, has been under severe legal pressure for several years, and its leaders threatened with criminal prosecution on charges that, while politically motivated, can result in strict-regime prison terms. The confiscation of property is based on tax evasion charges in connection with a human rights project undertaken with European Union funds, which are legally tax-exempt.
“The Helsinki Committee, and by extension the Belarusian people, needs solidarity from the international community as the government is snuffing out one of the few remaining civil society windows on the human rights situation. Without human rights groups, the government can extend its power with absolutely with no civil control and no accountability,” stated Aaron Rhodes, Executive Director of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF).
“The IHF is urgently appealing to the European Union and all members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to help the Helsinki Committee and all human rights defenders in Belarus,” Rhodes stated, noting that the move against the Committee took place while OSCE participating States met in Brussels.
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee was founded in 1995 and has been a full member of the IHF since 1997.
For more information:
Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director, +43-(0)1-408 88 22 or +43-(676)-6356612
Dzmitry Markusheuski, Belarusian Helsinki Committee Press Officer, +375– 29 709 5702