After mass arrests all across Belarus last weekend, a number of foreign politicians denounced ‘use of force by the authorities against its people’.
The US Embassy in Minsk and the EU officials were the first to respond. Both agencies called on Belarusian authorities ‘to immediately release all protesters’. “Steps taken by Belarus to respect universal fundamental freedoms, rule of law and human rights will remain key for the shaping of the European Union’s relationship with the country”, Maja Kocijancic, press-secretary of European Union External Action, stated.
The solidarity action with arrested Belarusians in New York
Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Andrea Rigoni, who visited Belarus on 23-24 March, called on the Belarusian government to stay focused on their path of dialogue with the Parliamentary Assembly and to immediately release all those who have been detained. “The use of administrative detentions and violence to intimidate opposition is alarming and particularly disturbing at this time of rapprochement between Belarus and our Assembly“, Rigoni said. In Minsk Mr. Rigoni met with government representatives, including the President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Speakers of both Chambers.
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee Chair Ignacio Sanchez Amor and Kent Harstedt, the Chair of the Assembly’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Belarus issued common statement, which also called for the release of those who are still in detention. “Each arrest must be done according to principles of due process. If the authorities do not have actual evidence of individual crimes having been committed, then they must release those being held in detention. Preventive arrests based on mere suspicion of ill intent do not meet international standards,” Harstedt said.
The British Foreign Office emphasized that ‘there is no justification for the use of force or intimidation against those exercising their right to peaceful protest’.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic made a statement on Twitter.
2/2 Call on respective authorities to release all the detained citizens and respect fundamental rights and freedoms.
— Czech MFA (@CzechMFA) 27 марта 2017 г.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister, Linas Linkevicius, warned Belarus authorities that ‘brutal oppressions against protesters’ may cause new western sanctions. “Stability in the country as well as the future of its relations with the European Union will depend on the actions to be taken by the Belarus authorities”, the statement said.
Condemn brutal oppressions against peaceful rally in #Minsk &call BY authorities 2stop persecution of its people. Freedom can’t be silenced!
— Linas Linkevicius (@LinkeviciusL) 25 марта 2017 г.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus reacted to these statements. Press-secretary of the Ministry Dmitri Mironchik admitted that freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are enshrined in the Constitution of the country. However, it’s hardly possible to call such demonstration peaceful, if “Molotov cocktails’ and cars with weapon are brought to the place of event. According to Dmitri Mironchik, the main task was to ensure the safety of the citizens and prevent the bloodshed. “In the face of escalation and geographical expansion of terrorist threat, authorities should be particularly security-conscious and act proactively instead of “cleaning up” the consequences afterwards. That is the lesson we learned from recent terrorist attacks in London, Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Nice, etc. That’s the notion Belarusian authorities was guided by”, Dmitri Mironchik reported.