UN Calls For Release Of Belarusian Rights Defenders

2012 2012-04-20T15:38:12+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called on the authorities in Belarus to begin a dialogue with the political opposition and "to unconditionally release all remaining prisoners who are serving sentences for exercising their fundamental human rights."

In a statement issued on April 20, the OHCHR welcomed the April 14-15 releases of political activists Andrey Sannikau and Dzmitry Bandarenka. The two were granted presidential pardons.

The OHCHR called for the immediate release of other jailed rights activists, including former presidential candidate Ales Byalyatski and opposition activist Syarhey Kavalenka.

On April 19, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka postponed an annual address to the nation and ordered officials to remove references to "excessively tough response measures" that could be taken in the face of heightened tensions with the European Union over his rights record.