Statement of Moscow bureau for human rights in connection with situation in Belarus
During all the recent years Belarus is invariably among the countries of the world where human rights are broken to the greatest extent: breaches of human rights in economic sphere and first of all in social-political sphere are the main object of criticism of international organizations. In Belarus ideological dissension was permanently suppressed, human rights activists were arrested and opposition journalists vanished without a trace. Combat against opposition reached its peak in December 2010 after holding of presidential election. Demonstrations of protest that followed them were cruelly suppressed. According to numerous evidences of the protesting people confirmed by video and photo documents, demonstrators were beaten, their mass arrests were conducted and tortures were applied to them. Human rights activists and lawyers of the arrested were subject to persecutions. Leaders of opposition including A. Lukashenko’s competitors at the election were sentenced to lasting terms of imprisonment.
Response of official circles of USA and European community countries, of international public did not take long to appear. In August 2011 during the 17th session of UN Human Rights Council the resolution was adopted by a majority vote about situation with human rights in Belarus, especially in connection with situation after December 19, 2010, and it contains demand to stop the politically motivated persecution of opposition leaders and civil society representatives, observe international standards in the field of securing of fair and equitable justice, release all the political prisoners, hold thorough independent investigation of ungrounded and disproportionate use of force towards participants of the action on December 19, 2010 as well as facts of application of tortures, to respect freedom of opinion expression, of associations and peaceful gatherings, meet international obligations within OSCE and admit presence of OSCE on the territory of Belarus.
Various economic and political sanctions are applied towards Byelorussia by the international community for many years, entry of many Byelorussian officials onto the territory of USA and EC is prohibited. But A. Lukashenko ignores all the demands and continues strengthening the authoritarian regime. Reciprocal steps are taken for non-admittance of officials and companies from “hostile states” into Byelorussia. Starting from recent March, already 10 employees and experts of International Observation Mission of Committee on International Control over the Human Rights Situation in Belarus were expelled from the country with ban for entry during two years. The head of delegation of Belarus sent a letter to all the Council members stating that pressure upon Belarus using mechanisms of the Council is of no practical value and that situation around Belarus was artificially forced in the Council by Western countries led by their political interests and encouraging “arbitrariness and extremism” on the part of opposition.
Moreover, Byelorussian authority just increases international isolation of the country introducing corresponding laws in home policy time after time too. Thus, one of these days the law “On measures for improvement of use of national segment of Internet network” is coming into force restricting citizens of Belarus in use of Internet. According to the law, companies and individual enterprisers providing services or conducting other kinds of work using Internet must implement their activity via websites having a national domain. If networks, systems or resources are not located on the territory of Belarus but have a foreign hosting, a penalty would be imposed for their use. It is obvious that Byelorussian authorities evidently restrict the freedom of information acquisition. While it is noted that the law does not apply to the citizens of the country, its requirements touch upon owners of Internet-cafes and Internet-clubs: they would be obliged to inform about visiting websites containing extremist and pornographic materials in their institutions. Thus it is supposed that owners of such cafes and clubs would intrude upon the private life of citizens tracing websites visited by them.
Development of situation in Belarus is of great significance also for Russia for a number of reasons. Russia and Belarus, though quite formally yet, form a union state. Russia is connected with Belarus by common history, close economic and military ties. Belarus has numerous preferences in trade sphere and in purchase of energy resources. At the same time Russian citizens and human rights activists, journalists are often subject to persecutions in Belarus. Russian authorities officially condemned the actions of Byelorussian authorities on December 19, 2010. A. Lukashenko ventured with abusive statements addressed to Russia and its president more than once.
Nevertheless Russia, on one hand, tries to stand for interests of its citizens and first of all Russian business in Belarus and on the other hand – plays the odious role of a country supporting Lukashenko’s regime. In is no mere chance that that Russia found itself among 5 countries that voted against taking measures towards Belarus together with China, Cuba, Nigeria and Ecuador.
Director of Moscow bureau for human rights Alexander Brod: “We think that Russia should follow logically the way of democratization of its country and at the same time get rid of double standards towards the brotherly country that is connected with Russia historically by closest ties. And this way would be beneficial both for us and Belarus”.