UN human rights chief demands immediate release of opposition candidates and their supporters

2010 2010-12-23T12:49:53+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has issued a statement demanding the immediate release of opposition presidential candidates and their supporters who were arrested over Sunday's post-election demonstration in Minsk although they "did not call for and were not involved in any violence." BelaPAN

"I am very much concerned by the use of force against demonstrators who were not participating in hostilities, violence against and abduction of opposition candidates and their supporters, detention of opposition activists and human rights defenders, and searches and harassment of independent non-governmental organizations," Dr. Pillay says in her statement. 

"While I condemn any calls for or resort to violence on the part of some radical factions in the opposition, I would like to note that the relevant authorities must fully respect and ensure their political opponents’ rights to peaceful demonstrations and freedom of speech," she says. 

Dr. Pillay calls on the Belarusian government to ensure that human rights defenders, journalists and civil society organizations are free from any harassment. "I urge all parties to refrain from violence and demonstrate full respect for human rights," she says. 

The governments of Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Lithuania, Slovakia and the United States and top-ranking officials of the European Union and other international organizations have already condemned the police crackdown on Sunday's demonstration and the arrests of opposition candidates and hundreds of other people.