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SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON BELARUS CONDEMNS FURTHER ESCALATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

24 March 2006

Urges President and Government to Stop Political Repression and Engage in Constructive Dialogue with All Sectors of Belarusian Society


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, reiterates once again his strong condemnation of the steady escalation of human rights violations committed by the Belarusian Government before, during and after the presidential election in the country.

The Special Rapporteur notes with concern and regret that the Belarusian Government has ignored all his previous appeals and those by, among others, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Parliament, Human Rights Watch, and the International League of Human Rights to cease human rights violations immediately, and particularly to stop politically motivated arrests and detentions of independent journalists, opposition candidates and their supporters, and human rights defenders.

Reports from various sources, including the media, indicate that Friday at around 3 a.m. the Belarusian riot police stormed the opposition tent camp in October Square in Minsk, destroying it and detaining some 400 demonstrators who had protested against the official result of the elections. Demonstrators who resisted were bundled into police buses. According to numerous reports, officers of the special forces beat demonstrators inside the buses in order to avoid press attention. An unknown white gas is also said to have been used against the protesters inside the police buses.

Journalists were not allowed to enter the tent camp during the attack, or to approach the police buses. At least three journalists, Tatsyana Snitka, Vadzim Kaznacheeu, and Tatsyana Vanina, were detained during the riot police storm on the protesters’ camp. The national TV channel has shortly reported this morning on the 'cleaning operation' showing how 'order and peace' have been eventually restored on the square.

The Special Rapporteur reiterates his call on the Government of Belarus to release immediately and unconditionally all political prisoners, bring all violations of human rights to an immediate end, and investigate them, in order to bring those responsible to justice. The Special Rapporteur urges the President and the Government of Belarus to engage immediately in a constructive dialogue with all sectors of the Belarusian society and with the political opposition before the human rights situation deteriorates even further.