News for 19 Jan 2009

19.01.2009 Another chance for Viasna

On 18 January Minsk hosted the constituent assembly of the public human rights association ‘Nasha Viasna’, co-founded by a number of leading human rights activists, journalists and public figures which had earlier been members of the HR organization Viasna, closed down by the Supreme Court of Belarus in 2003. As a result, Ales Bialiatski, influential human rights expert and FIDH Vice-president, was elected head of the organization. The closure was followed by numerous attempts to regain state registration; all of them were turned down due to trivial reasons.

19.01.2009 Expulsion for picket?

According to www.saligorsk.org, Illya Kavalei, student of Salihorsk economic college, applied for holding a picket against the vulnerability of Belarusian citizens to the economic policy of the state. Two days later he was invited for a conversation by the college administration. During the conversation he was threatened to be expelled from the college or even criminal prosecution.

19.01.2009 Picket banned in Slonim

Slonim town authorities did not allow holding a picket in the town center. The action organized by the BPF’s local office representatives Ivan Biadko and Ivan Sheh was aimed at expressing protest against the aggravation of the economic situation in Belarus. The authorities used precaution measures to prevent the ‘unsanctioned action’ – Ivan Biadko was visited by a police officer, while Ivan Sheh was recommended to leave his job.

19.01.2009 Open-air meeting?

According to UCP leader Anatol Liabedzka, the initiators of a campaign for introducing changes to the Belarusian electoral legislation do not have a place to hold a constituent assembly. ‘We have over 800 persons in the group. We have addressed 12 Minsk conference halls and have so far received 6 replies – all of them were negative,’ said Mr.Liabedzka.

19.01.2009 Ivan Shyla issues statement on his military service

On 19 January a Young Front activists Ivan Shyla declared he would not visit the military registration and enlistment office until 3 February, when the winter conscription is over.

19.01.2009 Implementation of the right to freedom of association in Belarus: 2008 analysis

In 2008 the situation in the field of the freedom of association in Belarus was extremely ambiguous. With the government expressing unfavourable attitude towards the activity of independent NGOs and opposition political parties, there emerged a number of new tendencies, dealing with the Belarus-EU and Belarus-US dialogue. The inner political situation was aggravated by a factor of foreign-policy, by making it even more multidimensional; the freedom of association is still controlled by the Belarusian government. The circumstances admit of no haste in taking evaluating the freedom of association and the situation with NGOs in 2008: one would not speak of any cardinal change, neither would one state the absence improvement in the field.

19.01.2009 Polish minority protest action in Hrodna

On 17 January some 200 members of the unregistered Union of Poles in Belarus, headed by Andzelika Borys, held an unsanctioned action of protest in front of the building of the Union of Poles in Hrodna. The demonstrators expressed their discontent with the town authorities’ decision to confiscate the building constructed at the expense of the Polish government.

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