21 December 2010. JOHANNESBURG. South Africa. CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and the Eurasia Network condemn the recent crackdown of Belarusian government authorities on election monitoring personnel, opposition party leaders and protestors during and immediately following the 19 December 2010 Belarusian presidential elections. We call on all OSCE member countries, including Belarus, to abide by its commitments to OSCE founding principles safeguarding the right to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression.
According to the Belarus Helsinki Committee, at approximately 3:15 a.m. on 20 December, government personnel arrested ten members of the Viasna Human Rights Center in central Minsk, detaining lawyers - including Valentin Stefanovich and Vladimir Labkovich - who were in the process of analysing data from 600 election observers from across the country. The previous night, the Chairman of Belarus Helsinki Committee, Aleh Hulak, was also arrested and detained by security personnel during a post-election demonstration in Nezavisimosti Square. According to human rights monitors, 634 were detained, many of whom have either been sentenced to jail, or are currently standing trial. Among the arrested are seven presidential candidates.
While the OSCE called the election 'flawed' at a news conference, Belarus President Lukashenko condemned the peaceful demonstrations and defended the mass arrests.
"You saw how our law-enforcers behaved. They stood firm and acted exclusively within the bounds of the law. They defended the country and people from barbarism and ruin," Lukashenko said at a Minsk press conference.
CIVICUS and the Eurasia Network call upon the OSCE to "insure effectively the rights of the individual to know and act upon human rights and fundamental freedoms"as agreed by all parties to the 1991 Copenhagen Document, and to halt the erosion of civil rights as put forward in the Outcome Document of Civil Society Parallel Conference held in Astana, Kazakhstan three weeks ago. We also echo local and international civil society's calls for the Belarusian authorities to annul the results of an election where the OSCE and other monitoring bodies sited mass fraud, intimidation and violence.
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society across the world. CIVICUS will continue to engage on this issue and other initiatives to defend the space for civil society around the world.
Adam Nord ( ), CIVICUS' Lobby and Engagement Manager,
Tel +27 11 8335959 (ext 108)
Rowena McNaughton ( ), CIVICUS' Media Officer,
Tel: +27 11 8335959 (ext 125