The government of Belarus must immediately stop the harassment and respect the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression of its citizens.
Swift trials have been taking place in Belarusian courts this week, following the arrests of 18 journalists and several members of the opposition and civil society were made in connection to peaceful protests. One of the first verdicts arrived at lunchtime today Monday, March 13 – a journalist from Radio Liberty was fined the equivalent of 280 euros. In a subsequent trial, a human rights defender was sentenced to 14 days in prison.
Throughout early March, protests have taken place in several cities across Belarus against the government’s economic policy and presidential decree on the "Prevention of Social Dependence."
On March 15 and March 25, several large demonstrations are planned in Minsk, the country’s capital.
Fearing more reprisals
Civil society leaders have expressed their worries that these protests will lead to mass reprisals, as occurred in December 2010, when more than 600 people were arrested in connection to peaceful assembly. Many were later convicted, spending up to 15 days in prison.
Civil Rights Defenders urgently calls on the Belarusian government to:
Stop the arbitrary intimidation, detention and searches of journalists, human rights defenders and opposition leaders’ offices and seizure of their property, and honor their right to peaceful assembly under Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
For more information, please contact:
Gabrielle Gunneberg: Phone: + 46 76 576 27 62; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org