FIDH Condemns Serious Human Rights Violations Perpetrated in Belarus on Occasion of State Sovereignty Day
Paris, July 31, 2007 – The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) expresses its deepest concern regarding a wave of arbitrary arrests and subsequent detentions of several opposition members in the run-up of the Belarus « State Sovereignty Day », which took place on July 27, 2007.
From July 23 to July 26, 16 activists were arrested in Minsk, Tsentralny and Partyzanski (Minsk districts) for distributing leaflets and posting stickers calling for peaceful opposition actions on the occasion of the State Sovereignty Day. Seven of them were subsequently sentenced to 10 to 15 days' imprisonment, while two were briefly detained and fined to the equivalent of USD 280 and USD 540. In addition, the cases of three of these activists have been sent to an administrative commission for consideration and the remaining two were released without any violation reported. Two persons will be tried on August 8, 2007 for their participation in these opposition actions.
Moreover, on July 27, 2007, the Belarus authorities repressed and arrested several persons in Minsk in order to prevent any action aiming at opposing the regime and at « disturbing » the State Sovereignty Day festivities. In about two hours, more than 40 persons – including journalists and politicians – who had gathered in the square near the monument of Yanka Kupala, were violently pushed out of the place of the event. At least 8 persons were arrested and arbitrarily detained, of which six have been released. Mr. Franak Viachorka was sentenced to 7 days' administrative detention. On July 30, Mr. Yaraslau Hryshchenia was sentenced to 15 days administrative detention, after being arbitrarily detained for three days.
FIDH condemns the arbitrary use of State power as well as widespread detentions in Belarus, and therefore calls on the Belarus authorities to immediately release the persons which are still being detained, to refrain from taking any action on those whose cases are still being considered by administrative commissions and to ensure that the charges against the two persons awaiting trial be dropped as they aim at sanctioning their freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
FIDH further calls on the Belarus authorities to put an immediate end to all forms of repression against those who exercise their freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly in accordance with its regional and international commitments in the field of human rights, in particular:
Article 2 of the 1990 Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) which provides that “democracy is an inherent element of the rule of law”;
Article 10 of the above-mentioned 1990 Copenhagen Document which guarantees freedom of association and opinion;
Article 19 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Belarus, which guarantees freedom of expression and opinion.
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