OSCE/ODIHR Director Link condemns undue restrictions on demonstrations and unnecessary use of force against peaceful protesters in Belarus
WARSAW, 26 March 2017 - Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, today condemned the reported undue restrictions on public assemblies and the unnecessary use of force by Belarusian authorities against peaceful protestors in Minsk and other cities in the country.
“The authorities have a duty to uphold the commitments Belarus has made as an OSCE participating State to respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly,” Director Link said. “The reported dispersals of peaceful demonstrations, the arbitrary detention and unnecessary use of force against protesters, as well as against human rights defenders and journalists, are cause for grave concern.”
The ODIHR Director highlighted that yesterday’s events followed the reported arrests and detention of hundreds of civil society, opposition activists and journalists, raids on the offices of civil society organizations, and the public mobilization of state security forces and riot police in recent days, in what appears to have been an attempt to intimidate those planning to take part in peaceful demonstrations.
“Following yesterday’s events and those in recent days, I again call on the Belarusian authorities to abstain from using any form of sanction or unnecessary force to stifle legitimate dissent and the right to freedom of expression,” he said.