We stand with the people of Belarus!
We are watching history unfold in real-time. The man who proudly sees himself as ‘Europe’s last dictator’ has ruled Belarus for 26 years and is aiming to retain his tight grip on power. The Belarus elections were neither free nor fair: opposition candidates were not approved by local authorities or were even jailed on politically motivated charges which led to a one-sided pre-election campaign. The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) announced that they will have to forgo the planned mission in Belarus as the authorities failed to issue a timely invitation. The Internet was shut down to hinder people's ability to share information about the election and demonstrations.
Protests erupted across Belarus following the rigged and contested election. Many of those on the streets protesting are young people, who are braving violent repression from police to make their voices heard. We stand in solidarity with young people and activists in Belarus. We support the desire of people in Belarus to live in an independent and democratic country. We ask and encourage the international community to support local civil society organisations to promote and strengthen democracy and human rights in Belarus. Human rights are universal rights; they are inalienable and indivisible.
According to the Belarusian authorities, around 7,000 people had been arrested, hundreds hospitalised due to injuries sustained during the protests. Hundreds of protestors were released from detention on Friday but the evidence shows that they experienced vicious physical abuse and humiliation while being in government custody. People are shocked by the brutality of the riot police, deploying disproportionate and unacceptable force. We call on the authorities and the government in Belarus to enter a genuine political dialogue with the opposition to end persecution and the use of force. We demand an immediate release of all detained protesters and jailed political prisoners.
European leaders and decision makers must send a strong and clear signal to stand on the side of democracy. We - Europeans - cannot stand idly-by. The values of respect for human dignity, justice, tolerance, and democracy are values to be applied throughout our continent. It has to be emphasised and reassured through action that the right to free and fair elections is a fundamental value of democracy and freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. We support targeted sanctions indicated by the European leaders against those responsible for electoral fraud and violence against protesters.
People of Belarus voted for change. They voted for freedom and fairness. They need our support. They cannot be let down by the international community.
Please read a statement from the Belarusian National Youth Council RADA, our member organisation, on the Belarus presidential election 2020.