HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS FOR FREE ELECTIONS RAIDED AND STAFF DETAINED
At approximately 3:15am on 20 December, following the 19 December Belarusian presidential election, special forces personnel raided the office of Human Rights Centre “Viasna” in central Minsk. At 3:45am, ten staff present were detained, including lawyers Valentin Stefanovich and Vladimir Labkovich, and taken to the police department of Pervomaisky district of Minsk. Special forces then carried out a search of the premises.
Viasna, together with Belarus Helsinki Committee, were jointly conducting the domestic election monitoring project “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” and staff were in the process of analyzing data collected the previous day from 600 election observers across the country.
Earlier that night, Chairman of Belarus Helsinki Committee Oleg Gulak was detained in a separate incident by riot police as he left the peaceful post-election demonstration at Nezavisimosti Square and taken to Akrestina police detention centre.
The aim of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" is observation of the election of the President of Belarus in 2010, assessment of the electoral process from the viewpoint of Belarusian electoral legislation and international standards of free and democratic elections, and keeping the Belarusian public and international community duly informed about conclusions of the observation. The campaign is independent and politically non-engaged. More information about the campaign can be found in the websites of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" (http://spring96.org) and Belarusian Helsinki Committee (http://www.belhelcom.org).