International Ice Hockey Federation at risk of legitimizing human rights violations in Belarus
We have learned that the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has confirmed at its general congress in Stockholm 16-19 May that the Republic of Belarus will host the 2014 IIHF World Championship.
We, representatives of the international human rights campaign ”Don’t Play with the Dictator!”, are deeply disappointed. By allowing the Republic of Belarus to host the 2014 Championship, the IIHF supports and risks legitimizing a regime which violates the human rights of the Belarusian people in an alarming way.
Belarus is ruled by President Aleksander Lukashenko whose prisons currently hold at least 11 political prisoners. Among them is Nobel Peace Prize nominee and human rights defender Ales Bialiatski and members of the political opposition. In Belarus, elections are falsified, free media is suppressed, and youth are harassed and persecuted for their opinions.
To host the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will pose a great opportunity for Aleksander Lukashenko to shed a positive light on himself and his regime. Unfortunately, through its decision, the IIHF helps the Belarusian regime in using the Championships for political purposes, contrary to its often stated own ambition not to let major sports events be turned into political spectacles.
Partnership for Human Rights (Germany)
Östgruppen – Swedish Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (Sweden)
Norwegian Helsinki Committee (Norway)
People in Need (Czech Republic)
Human Rights in Belarus (Germany)
Civic Belarus (Czech Republic)