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ATHENS COUNCIL: Arab world - Middle East peace - nuclear energy

01-02 July 2011

The Socialist International has closely followed the situation in Belarus with great concern since the fraudulent elections of 19 December 2010, which saw incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko declared re-elected in the first round by an overwhelming margin.

Since that date, a number of presidential candidates, activists and journalists have been imprisoned on false charges and in violation of their human rights.

The SI has consistently called for the release of these prisoners, through letters sent to President Lukashenko and public statements, and by means of the visit of the Secretary General to Minsk in January.

Since February, many of these prisoners have been put on trial and given custodial sentences, including Mikalai Statkevich, presidential candidate and chair on the SI member Belarusian Social Democratic Party (BSDP-NH), who was in May sentenced to six years in prison.

In recent months, Belarus has also fallen into economic crisis with dire consequences for its citizens, who have seen their average income fall by 50%, exposing the ineffectiveness of the government, which provides neither democracy nor economic stability for its people.

Now, meeting in Athens, the Socialist International reiterates its call for:

- The immediate release of Mikalai Statkevich, as well as the other candidates, leaders and political and human rights activists incarcerated today in the prisons of Minsk;

- The full respect of human rights, fundamental freedoms and all other rights of the people of Belarus which are today abused and unrecognised by the Lukashenko regime;

- The immediate establishment of democratic governance, with guarantees of the democratic rights to which the Belarusian people aspire and which they demand;

- Members of the international community to assist in this regard by increasing political pressure on the regime.

The SI will continue to work with all Belarusian democrats until the ultimate goal of a free and effective democracy in Belarus is realised.