David Kramer: No concessions until all political prisoners are released

2008 2008-01-25T20:27:25+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

David Kramer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State welcomed the release of political prisoners Zmiter Dashkevich and Mikalai Autukhovich in Belarus and urged the Belarusian authorities to release all prisoners of conscience.

The US welcomes the release of political prisoners Mikalai Autukhovich and Zmiter Dashekvich in Belarus. Undoubtedly, it is a positive sign, but from the other hand participants of entrepreneurs’ demonstrations are arrested and opposition leaders are under pressure. Such activity must be stopped. No country should make any concessions to Belarus until all political prisoners are released, David Kramer said at the meeting with Belarusian journalists in Washington.

According to the deputy assistant secretary, release of Dashkevich and Autukhovich should be followed by freeing of other democrats.

He hopes to see this process will continue. It is just a first step, not a final result. The US wants the citizens of Belarus have an opportunity to chose a free life, they deserve the right of choice. As well as entrepreneurs, who don’t like decrees and orders of the authorities. They have right to hold a protest demonstration, David Kramer said.

Answering the question of a Charter’97 correspondent about how the US authorities are going to respond to continuing violations of human right by the authorities in Belarus, David Kramer said he met with Natallya Pyatkevich, deputy head of the president’s administration, last April. He explained: if the state doesn’t take concrete steps towards democracy, and first of all the release of all political prisoners, the United States will impose additional sanctions against the regime. Moreover, if the government of Belarus takes true steps, the US will react in a proper way.

Unfortunately, the Belarusian government did nothing in 2007. So the US had to do two things: it significantly expanded the visa ban list and imposed sanctions against Belneftkhim to prove the US had serious intentions. It was the sanction that drew the attention of Belarusian highest ranks, and it was imposed for purpose to show the Belarusian authorities the US’s approach to the issue of freedom and human right in Belarus is serious.

Commenting to the Charter’97 press center the Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s threats to the US ambassador in Minsk and his words about possible exile of the diplomat from the country, the US politician said, when he knew what Lukashenka had said addressing the US Ambassador, he had an impression these words were said occasionally. It wasn’t a comment, he had planned beforehand. It was a sudden frankness, revealing his discontent and perplex. Kramer understood then the US drew Lukashenka’s attention, because possible future sanctions were discussed at that time. The more Russia increases gas price, the more the economic situation in Belarus worsens, and the country won’t be able to afford additional economic sanctions to be imposed.

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