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EXPERT ON BELARUS DEMANDS RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS, URGES DIALOGUE WITH CIVIL SOCIETY AND POLITICAL OPPOSITION

2 May 2006

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Adrian Severin, issued the following statement today:


"The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Adrian Severin, expresses grave concern over the detention of opposition leaders Aleksandr Milinkevich, Vintsuk Vyachorka, Aleksandr Buchvostau, and Sergei Kalyakin, who were arrested in Minsk on April 27, 2006, and sentenced to 15 days of imprisonment on charges of organizing and participating in an unauthorized protest rally, following their participation in a march to protest the government's management of the Chernobyl nuclear accident of 1986. He also expresses serious concern at reports indicating that another opposition member, Anatoly Lebedko, would have been detained by KGB officers on 25 April for several hours during which he would have been the victim of threats and ill-treatments.

The Special Rapporteur demands the immediate and unconditional release of Aleksandr Milinkevich, Vintsuk Vyachorka, Aleksandr Buchvostau, and Sergei Kalyakin as well as of all other political prisoners of Belarus, including Alexander Kazulin, Zmitser Dashkevich, Mikita Sasim, Artur Finkevich, Tsimafej Dranchuk, Mikalay Astrejka, Enira Branitskaya, Alyaksandr Shalajka, Dzyanis Nibijka, Valery Levaneuski, Mikola Statkevich, Andrei Klimau, Mikalay Autukhovich, Mikalay Rozumau, Yury Radzivill, Syarhei Lyashkevich and Siarhei Skrabets.

Moreover, the Special Rapporteur demands the Belarusian Government to give a clear an immediate sign of its readiness to cease ongoing human rights violations and bring their perpetrators to justice, and to invite him, as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, to conduct a fact-finding mission to Belarus at the soonest.

Finally, he urges the Belarusian Government to promptly engage in dialogue with all sectors of the Belarusian civil society, including the political opposition, with a view to define jointly a road map for the implementation of the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur, of other special procedures of the United Nations, and of the human rights treaty bodies, particularly regarding freedom of the media and the independence of the judiciary".
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