Belarus Human Rights Issues Stay Up-to-Date for Brussels
On June 27, the first day of the visit to Brussels, the meeting was titled “Belarusian society: towards a modern political and national identity?” Besides, individual meetings with European MPs were held. The organizers invited the Nobel Prize winner in literature Sviatlana Alexievich, Belarusian oppositional MPs Hanna Kanapatskaya and Alena Anisim, the media expert and head of the Solidarity with Belarus Information Office Yuliya Slutskaya, co-chair of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party Vital Rymasheuski and the head of Viasna Ales Bialiatski. On June 28, the Belarusian delegates met with representatives of embassies of participating states from the European Commission, with members of the European External Action Service, headed by Federica Mogherini, and with the department on the Eastern Partnership.
Ales Bialiatski remarks the genuine interest coming from European parliamentarians to the Belarusian delegation:
“Among the wide range of issues discussed during the working meetings with the deputies, the topic of human rights was practically number one issue. This is logical, as human rights is a priority issue for the EU,” says the human rights defender. In his view, the central meeting was the talk with Johannes Hahn, Commissioner at Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations department.
“We were curious to hear how the EU was going to develop relations with Belarus in the near future. We are stating that there have not been any systemic changes in Belarus, but we are observing a step-up in international relations: top officials visit Belarus, like Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs; the annual session of the PA OSCE is about to start; and in the second half of July, another round of the human rights dialogue “EU – Belarus” will take place.
We would want that the intensifying contacts with Belarus would lead to real changes in the country itself. In our talk, we touched upon the disturbing events of spring 2017, connected with the criminal cases with political coloring, with the detentions and repressions against more than a thousand civil and political activists, and that the problem of death penalty stays unsolved. This year, one death sentence has been handed down, and some new more may appear at the end of July.
We also discussed the topic of students who have been expelled from educational establishments after the spring peaceful actions.”
In the talk with Johannes Hahn, the human rights defender encouraged to be more consistent and principled in contacts with Belarusian officials and to bid for real changes in human rights situation in the country.