OPEN LETTER OF SLOVAK NGOs TO THE PRESIDENT OF BELARUS, A. LUKASHENKO
MR. PRESIDENT ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO,
With deep regret we have recently received an urgent appeal by Belarussian non-governmental organizations calling attention to widespread pressure imposed on civil society by the state administration which you head. We are deeply disturbed by word from our Belarussian colleagues of mounting pressure by state authorities against Belarussian citizens exercising their fundamental constitutional rights, such as the right of assembly, the right of association, freedom of expression, the right to information, the right to a free and fair electoral process, and the right to education in one’s mother tongue, among others. Similarly, we are seriously concerned about the increasing liquidation of the independent press and several NGOs in Belarus.
WE, CIVIC ACTIVISTS AND REPRESENTATIVES OF SLOVAK NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS, FULLY UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS APPEAL BY OUR BELARUSSIAN COUNTERPARTS. IN THE PERIOD 1994–1998, WE OURSELVES WERE FACED WITH SEVERAL ATTEMPTS BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE TIME TO RESTRICT CONDITIONS FOR ACTIVITIES OF THE NONPROFIT SECTOR AND INDEPENDENT MEDIA. WE ARE, THEREFORE, SENSITIVE TO SUCH GROSS VIOLATIONS OF FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY OCCUR IN COUNTRIES AS CLOSE TO OUR OWN AS BELARUS.
Therefore we ask you, Mr. President, to intervene to stop the pressure imposed on civil society organizations and independent press in Belarus. At the same time, we urge you to create standard conditions for the functioning of Belarussian civil society. The experience of modern European democracies clearly shows that the free, unrestricted work of NGOs and the existence of pluralistic, independent media are of great benefit to society as a whole and to individual citizens. Since we believe that only life spent in freedom is real life, and that human rights are an essential component of such a life, we hope that Belarussian society will proceed along a path of democratic change similar to the one we ourselves have traversed.
WE EXPRESS OUR SOLIDARITY WITH ALL THOSE IN BELARUS WHO DESIRE TO CONTRIBUTE TO A LIFE LIVED IN FREEDOM.