EU And Freedom House Denounce Arrests During ‘Parasite Tax’ Protests In Belarus

The European Union calls on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release all people who were detained during the recents protests, Maja Kocijancic, European Commission spokesperson, told BelaPAN news agency.

Detentions of peaceful demonstrators, including opposition leaders, contradict the policy of democratization, declared by Belarus, Kocijancic said commenting on recent arrests.

“The European Union remains committed to stable, democratic and prosperous future of Belarus for the benefit of its people and will continue its work on this goal. We call for the immediate release of detainees”, the spokesperson is quoted by the news agency.

Andrea Wiktorin, Head of EU Delegation to Belarus, said that the EU will continue to follow the situation closely.

“We sincerely hope that all sides – I emphasize, all sides – will refrain from any violent actions,” Andrea Wiktorin told BelaPAN on 14 March.

The actions of the law-enforcement agencies were also subject to critisisim from Freedom House, the international human rights watchdog.

“With arrests taking place with little or no due process…, authorities apparently want to silence all criticism of a presidential decree that requires the unemployed to pay a tax for being ‘social parasites’,” the organization said in a statement.

Mass protests against Decree No3, called the law against ‘social parasites’, have been taking place across Belarus since February.

According to human rights activists, over 70 people have been detained for taking part in the protests since 3 March. On 13 March, trials of the arrested activists were held in Orsha, Brest and Bobruisk.

The authorities have not yet commented on the arrests.