FIDH activists demonstrate during Belarus FM’s visit to Brussels (photo, video)
About a dozen people took part in the event held on July 22 in Brussels on the occasion of a visit by the Foreign Minister of Belarus Uladzimir Makei to participate in the meeting of foreign ministers of the Eastern Partnership countries.
The event was organized by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). The picketers were standing on the Schuman Roundabout that serves as a focus for major institutions of the European Union, displaying portraits of Belarusian political prisoners and chanting slogans “Freedom to Political Prisoners!” and “Free Them Now!” They were wearing T-shirts with portraits of Ales Bialiatski, Belarusian human rights defender and FIDH vice-president, who has been behind bars for almost two years and is recognized as a political prisoner.
"We demand the release of political prisoners, who are a symbol of human rights violations in Belarus, recognized by international human rights organizations,” said Antoine Madelin, FIDH Director for Intergovernmental organizations, addressing the picketers. According to him, “The EU is engaged in dialogue with offenders.” “Indeed, we need them to hear our voice. However, if the travel ban is lifted (removal of visa restrictions from Uladzimir Makei) it must be removed in exchange for the guarantee of respect for human rights and the freedom of political prisoners in Belarus,” said Mr. Madelin.
Sasha Koulaeva, FIDH Head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia, in turn, said, “With today's action, we want to encourage the EU not only to release of political prisoners, who were the subject of an unprincipled, in our opinion, bargaining, but generally to a balanced position on Belarus and systemic changes that would warrant a change in the situation in the country.”
The picket lasted for about half an hour.
Information and video by BelaPAN
Pictures from the event provided by FIDH