Assembly of NGOs to take place in Minsk on 6-7 March
The Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs is to take place in Minsk on 6-7 March. More than 300 have been already invited to take part in it. The previous assembly took place in 2004. Many things have changed since that time.
An officer of the Supolnasc center Siarhei Matskevich commented:
‘The punishment for activities on behalf of unregistered organization was introduced into the criminal law. Civil organizations were deprived of facilities. Harassment of activists is our daily trouble.
However, lately there has started so-called liberalization. That’s why this time is very convenient for public organizations to gather, discuss their problems and define their united position.’
Vital Vasilkou, representative of the civil center Kola from Mahiliou, said that Minsk forum was preceded by a number of regional events:
‘For instance, in our Mahiliou oblast there was even a large feast – more than 100 organizations participated in it. Besides, there were topical round tables among ecologists, youth organizations, etc. There’s even such new direction as new media. It is another topic in the activities of NGOs.’Mr. Vasilkou specified that a meeting of representatives of ‘new media’ (the people who dealt with different projects in the regions) is to take at Minsk forum.
According to Mr. Matskevich, more than 50 representatives of the foreign organizations that have cooperated with their Belarusian colleagues have been also invited to the Assembly.
Two of them, a representative of Kyiv department of the National Democratic Institute David Hamilton and a representative of the Batory Foundation from Warsaw Agnieszka Komarowska, have already received visa denials from the Belarusian Embassies.
‘I got a telephone call from the Belarusian Embassy in Kyiv. They said that though we invited Hamilton, they could not issue a visa to him, because he was in the list of personae non-grata, but we could ask the KGB to give a permission to issue a visa to him.
There are about five more people who still were denied visas. Pitifully enough, this list can be extended.’