Ales Bialiatski tells Latvian Foreign Minister about Belarusian political prisoners
On 20 February, the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia hosted a meeting of representatives of the Belarusian civil society with the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Edgars Rinkēvičs. The meeting was attended by representatives of human rights organizations, including the chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski.
During the meeting, Ales Bialiatski focused on the fact that the human rights situation in Belarus is consistently poor. The country has six political prisoners. Of particular concern is the situation of Mikalai Dziadok, awaiting a new trial on 25 February, as well as Yury Rubtsou, who faces a transfer to a penal colony. Moreover, the number of political prisoners may rapidly increase, as the authorities are not going to democratize the political situation in the country and all the repressive tools remain in place.
Human rights defenders reports ongoing harassment of political activists on trumped-up administrative charges. The country has suppressed all civil and political liberties, journalists and human rights defenders are persecuted, and the death penalty is still applied. Moreover, the recent campaign against social parasitism and the increasingly popular idea of using forced labor are aimed at limiting the rights of a much wider scope of social groups in Belarus than just civil society activists.
Ales Bialiatski called on the European Union, currently chaired by Latvia, not to choose the path of azerbaijanization of Belarus, not to tolerate the massive and comprehensive human rights violations in Belarus, not to reduce the high level of demands for the authorities in the field of human rights.
At the same time, Viasna leader called to continue efforts to liberalize the visa regime between the EU and Belarus, so that in the near future the citizens could enjoy the visa-free space.
Ales Bialiatski urged Minister Rinkēvičs to invite to the summit of the European Partnership, which will be held in Riga in May, representatives of Belarus’ civil society, in order to allow the Belarusian pro-democratic forces, who are fighting for human rights and a free democratic Belarus, to voice their opinion during the event.