Ales Bialiatski: ‘Authorities are no longer ashamed of observers’
Belarusian human rights activists state that it is almost impossible to inform the public about the registered violations of the laws and falsifications of the elections in Belarus, and the authorities use them shamelessly.
The human rights activists share the information of elections observing with Lithuanian journalists in Vilnius. State-controlled mass media didn’t give not only any alternative but also any ‘official’ information about the political campaign in Belarus, Deutsche Welle reports.
‘It is the calmest electoral campaign we have observed for 15 years’, Harry Pahaniaila, head of the legal commission of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, said.
According to Ales Bialiatski, vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), information vacuum in the country creates ground for unpunished repressions.
‘Some candidates were dismissed rudely. A candidate of Kobryn made a scandalous record of his talk with the Kobryn KGB head and the director of the enterprise where he worked, who persuaded him and then set an ultimatum: ‘Our town is small and if you want to work then you must withdraw’.
The candidate recorded this and put it on the web, we attracted attention to this, but what did come then? Were the KGB head or the plant director punished? No, nothing like that has happened. The person was dismissed, that’s all,’ Ales Bialiatski said.
According to Bialiatski, independent observers of the elections, who have certain proofs of vote fraud, are helpless, too. Nobody is interested in them or fears them.
‘We have dozens of such cases – an observer is sitting, counts every voter and receives that 150 people voted beforehand, but a report of voter count says 250, 500 or 600 people voted. What is this? Is this election? The authorities are not ashamed of neither domestic, nor international observers any more,’ Bialiatski says.
The Lithuanian journalists, who heard the story of Belarusian human rights activists, couldn’t understand why the society wasn’t interested in an unveiled abuse of the authorities, though according to observers, most of early voters were forced to vote. The human rights activists could only tell vivid examples.
‘Everyone got used to this. For example, we received a photo of an advertisement in a Slutsk school: ‘Dear colleagues please vote in advance, because we have been demanded to provide the lists of teachers who haven’t voted yet.’ Who demanded them, for what purpose – one can only guess. We know about Baranavichy, where teachers signed documents after they voted early,’ human rights activist Valiantsin Stefanovich says.
However, international observers have different opinions about the elections. The observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) recognized the elections non-democratic, but noticed a certain progress in comparison with the previous ones, whereas the observers from the Commonwealth of the Independent States (CIS) didn’t notice any significant violations at all.