Authorities intimidating founders of Belarusian Christian Democracy, says co-chairman

2011 2011-12-29T19:25:14+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

Authorities have waged a campaign of intimidation to force activists of Belarusian Christian Democracy (BCD) to withdraw as founders from the unregistered opposition party, BCD Co-chairman Vital Rymashewski told BelaPAN on Thursday. 

In particular, one of the members of the organizing committee for BCD, Anastasiya Matsak, who works at a child day care center in Narowlya, Homyel region, has been warned that she will be fired unless she withdraws her signature from the party’s founding documents, said Mr. Rymashewski. 

“On December 28, Matsak was invited to the district education department where its senior officials showed her the justice ministry’s papers,” said Mr. Rymashewski. “They called BCD a cult and told her that her employment contract would not be extended and she would not be able to find a new job if she did not quit the organizing committee.” 

Other BCD activists, who took part in the party’s new, fourth founding conference held in Minsk on December 17, reportedly receive calls from the justice ministry’s officials who ask them whether they really attended the meeting, how many people took part in it and when its delegates were nominated. “They phoned my wife, but she refused to answer their questions,” said Mr. Rymashewski. 

He warned that the party would fight back. “We are set to look into each instance so that officials at all levels know that they are also responsible for the intimidation campaign, not just their bosses. We will press for criminal punishment against each official guilty.” 

Mr. Rymashewski expressed confidence that not a single member of the organizing committee would quit it. 

When applying to the justice ministry for registration previously, BCD was also subjected to pressure on the part of the authorities, he said. “The justice ministry also phoned BCD activists, and employers pressured our activists to withdraw their founding signatures and claim in writing that they had never put them.”