Global Letter in solidarity with Belarusian civil society

Russian | Belarusian

‘You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep the Spring from coming’
Pablo Neruda

161 human rights organisations demand an end to the repression against the Human Rights Center Viasna and all other human rights defenders in Belarus. We condemn the systematic arbitrary arrests, beatings and acts of torture they are subjected to. Despite all-out repression by the Belarusian authorities, human rights defenders in Belarus continue to strive to protect human rights. Inspired by their courage, we will not stop fighting until they are all released and able to continue their human rights work freely and unhindered.

Over the past few days, we have witnessed another wave of raids and detentions against Belarusian human rights defenders and activists. This repression is a blatant retaliation for their work denouncing and documenting human rights violations ongoing since the brutal crackdown against peaceful protesters in the wake of the August 2020 election. Since August 2020, more than 35,000 Belarusians were arrested for participating in peaceful protests, around 3,000 politically motivated criminal cases were initiated, at least 2,500 cases of torture of Belarusian citizens were documented. We believe these systematic and widespread human rights violations may amount to crimes against humanity. As of July 19, 561 persons in Belarus are considered political prisoners.

Between July 14 and 16, 2021, more than 60 searches were conducted at the homes and offices of Belarusian human rights organisations and their staff, including the Human Rights Centre ‘Viasna’, two member organisations of the International Committee for the Investigation of Torture in Belarus, Human Constanta and Legal Initiative, as well as the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the Legal Transformation Center LawTrend, Ecodom and many others. Documents and IT equipment, including laptops, mobile phones and computers were seized during the searches.

During these latest raids, more than 30 people were interrogated. 13 of them were detained for a 72-hour period, reportedly in connection to an investigation into public order violations and tax evasion. Most of them were subsequently released, namely, Mikalai Sharakh, Siarhei Matskievich, and Viasna members Andrei Paluda, Alena Laptsionak, Yauheniya Babaeva, Siarhei Sys, Viktar Sazonau, Ales Kaputski and Andrei Medvedev. Several of them, however, remain under travel ban and face criminal charges. Notably, Ales Bialiatsky, Viasna Chairperson Valiantsin Stefanovic, Viasna Deputy Head and Vice-President of the FIDH, and Uladzimir Labkovich, a lawyer and Viasna member, remain detained. On July 17, all four were transferred to a pre-trial detention center “Valadarskaha”. Four other Viasna members Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa, Marfa Rabkova and Andrey Chapyuk, as well as Aleh Hrableuski of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, remain in pre-trial detention since late 2020 or early 2021.

Viasna, one of the country’s top human rights organisations, and a member of the OMCT and FIDH networks, has been targeted by the Belarusian government for over two decades. In August 2011, its chairperson Ales Bialiatsky was sentenced to four and a half years of imprisonment on trumped-up charges, and released in June 2014 after spending 1,052 days in arbitrary detention in appalling conditions. In retaliation for Viasna’s courageous work and unwavering stance for human rights, the Belarusian authorities are trying to destroy the organisation by putting seven of its members behind bars.

The raids started only one day after the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution condemning the situation of human rights in Belarus, demanding the release of all persons arbitrarily detained and an investigation into allegations of torture and other human rights violations.

On July 8-9 and July 16, 2021, the authorities also raided the homes and premises of various independent media outlets and their staff, including ‘Nasha Niva’, one of country’s oldest independent newspaper, and detained three of its journalists. The offices of RFE/Radio Liberty and Belsat, the largest independent TV channel covering Belarus, were also searched, and several of their journalists were detained. As of now, over 30 media workers and dozens of bloggers remain in detention.

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, condemn the massive human rights violations perpetrated by the Belarusian authorities, which we fear may trigger more violence. This latest wave of repression, together with the brutal crackdown over the last months, demonstrates that the authorities aim at having every human rights defender either detained or exiled.

We stand in solidarity with our colleagues and friends who are detained, harassed, and persecuted for their brave work. We regard their struggle with great concern and sorrow, and we are inspired by their commitment and resilience.

We urge the Belarusian authorities to stop the harassment and intimidation of critical voices, and to free all unjustly detained human rights defenders, journalists and activists.

We call on the international community to take a strong stance in support of the Belarusian human rights community, and to speak out for the release of all those who are still behind bars, and whose only crime is to demand a society based on justice instead of fear.

Signatories

1. Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran - Iran
2. ACAT Belgique - Belgium
3. ACAT Burundi - Burundi
4. ACAT España-Catalunya (Acción de los Cristianos para la Abolición de la Tortura) - Spain
5. ACAT Germany (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture) - Germany
6. ACAT Italia - Italy
7. ACAT République Centrafricaine - Central African Republic
8. ACAT République Démocratique du Congo - Democratic Republic of Congo
9. ACAT Suisse - Switzerland
10. ACAT Tchad - Tchad
11. ACAT Togo - Togo
12. Action Against Violence and Exploitation (ACTVE) - Philippines
13. Action des Chrétiens Activistes des Droits de l’Homme à Shabunda (ACADHOSHA) - Democratic Republic of Congo
14. Advocacy Forum – Nepal - Nepal
15. Agir ensemble pour les droits humains - France
16. Albanian Human Rights Group
17. ALTSEAN-Burma - Myanmar
18. Anti Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) - Malaysia/Asia-Pacific
19. Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial - Belgium
20. ARTICLE 19
21. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights - Indonesia
22. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) - Philippines
23. Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa (ACI PARTICIPA) - Honduras
24. Asociación pro derechos humanos (Aprodeh) - Peru
25. Association Mauritanienne des droits de l'homme (AMDH-Mauritanieuri) - Mauritania
26. Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) - India
27. Association Tchadienne pour la promotion et la Défense des Droits de l'Homme (ATPDH) - Tchad
28. Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates - Tunisia
29. Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF France) - France
30. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) - India
31. Belarusian-Swiss Association RAZAM.CH - Switzerland
32. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee - Bulgaria
33. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) - Cambodia
34. Capital Punishment Justice Project (CPJP) - Australia
35. Center for Civil Liberties - Ukraine
36. Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) - United States of America
37. Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR), University of York - United Kingdom
38. Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (CDDHR) - Russia
39. Centro de Derechos humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas A.c. (Frayba) - Mexico
40. Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte - Mexico
41. Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH) - Honduras
42. Centro de Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de Victimas de la Tortura y sus familiares (CPTRT) - Honduras
43. Centro de Salud Mental y Derechos Humanos (CINTRAS) - Chile
44. Changement Social Bénin (CSB) - Benin
45. CIVICUS
46. Civil Rights Defenders (CRD) - Sweden
47. Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH-RD) - Dominican Republic
48. Coalition Burkinabé des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CBDDH) - Burkina Faso
49. Coalition Marocaine contre la Peine de Mort - Morocco
50. Coalition Tunisienne Contre la Peine de Mort - Tunisia
51. Collectif des Associations Contre l'Impunité au Togo (CACIT) - Togo
52. Comisión de derechos humanos – COMISEDH - Peru
53. Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH) - Honduras
54. Comité de solidaridad con los presos políticos (FCSPP) - Colombia
55. Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) - Northern Ireland (UK)
56. Crude Accountability - United States of America
57. Czech League of Human Rights Czech Republic
58. Death Penalty Focus (DPF) - United States of America
59. Defenders of human rights centre - Iran
60. DEMAS - Association for Democracy Assistance and Human Rights - Czech Republic
61. DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights - Botswana
62. Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) - Belgium
63. Eleos Justice, Monash University - Australia
64. Enfants Solidaires d'Afrique et du Monde (ESAM) - Benin
65. Federal Association of Vietnam-Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany - Germany
66. FIDU - Italian Federation for Human Rights - Italy
67. Finnish League for Human Rights - Finland
68. Free Press Unlimited - The Netherlands
69. Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos (INREDH) - Ecuador
70. GABRIELA Alliance of Filipino Women - Philippines
71. German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (GCADP) - Germany
72. Greek Helsinki Monitor Greece
73. Helsinki Citizens' Assembly – Vanadzor - Armenia
74. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights - Poland
75. Citizens' Watch Russia
76. Human Rights Alert - India
77. Human Rights Association (İHD) - Turkey
78. Human Rights Center (HRC) - Georgia
79. Human Rights Center (HRC) "Memorial" - Russia
80. Human Rights House Foundation
81. Human Rights in China (HRIC) - USA
82. Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) - Lithuania
83. Human Rights Mouvement “Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan” - Kyrgyzstan
84. Human Rights Organization of Nepal - Nepal
85. Humanist Union of Greece (HUG) - Greece
86. Hungarian Helsinki Committee - Hungary
87. IDP Women Association "Consent" - Georgia
88. Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) - Kenya
89. Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay (IELSUR) - Uruguay
90. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) - Kenyan Section - Kenya
91. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) - France
92. International Legal Initiative - Kazakhstan
93. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) - Belgium
94. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) - Switzerland
95. Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society - India
96. JANANEETHI - India
97. Justice for Iran (JFI) - United Kingdom
98. Justícia i Pau - Spain
99. Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law - Kazakhstan
100. Kharkiv Regional Foundation "Public Alternative" - Ukraine
101. La Strada International - The Netherlands
102. La Voix des Sans Voix pour les Droits de l'Homme (VSV) - Democratic Republic of Congo
103. Latvian Human Rights Committee (LHRC) - Latvia
104. Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights YUCOM - Serbia
105. League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) - Iran
106. Legal Policy Research Centre (LPRC) - Kazakhstan
107. Libereco Partnership of Human Rights - Germany/ Switzerland
108. LICADHO - Cambodia
109. Lifespark - Switzerland
110. Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos Humanos - Civitas (LPDHC) - Portugal
111. Liga voor de Rechten van de Mens (LvRM) (Dutch League for Human Rights) - The Netherlands
112. Ligue des droits de l'Homme (LDH) - France
113. Ligue Tchadienne des droits de l'Homme - Tchad
114. Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) - Maldives
115. Martin Ennals Foundation - Switzerland
116. Minority Rights Group - Greece
117. Mouvance des Abolitionnistes du Congo Brazzaville - Congo Brazzaville
118. Mouvement Ivoirien des Droits Humains (MIDH) - Côte d'Ivoire
119. Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l'Homme - Laos
120. Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos (MNDH) - Brazil
121. Netherlands Helsinki Committee - The Netherlands
122. Norwegian Helsinki Committee - Norway
123. Observatoire du système pénal et des droits humains (OSPDH) - Spain
124. Observatoire Marocain des prisons - Morocco
125. Odhikar - Bangladesh
126. OPEN ASIA|Armanshahr - France
127. Organisation contre la torture en Tunisie (OCTT) - Tunisie
128. Organisation Guineenne de Defense des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen (OGDH) - Guinea
129. Österreichische Liga für Menschenrechte ÖLFMR - Austria
130. Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) - Palestine
131. Pax Christi Uvira - Democratic Republic of Congo
132. People's Watch India
133. Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea) - Venezuela
134. Promo LEX Association - Republic of Moldova
135. Protection International (PI)
136. Public Association "Dignity" - Kazakhstan
137. Public Association Spravedlivost Human Rights Organization - Kyrgyzstan
138. Public Verdict Foundation - Russia
139. Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme RADDHO - Senegal
140. Repecap Academics - Spain
141. Réseau des Defenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) - Cameroon
142. Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH) - Haïti
143. Rights Realization Centre - UK
144. Rural People's Sangam - India
145. Salam for Democracy and Human Rights - UK, Lebanon, Bahrain
146. Social-Strategic Researches and Analytical Investigations Public Union (SSRAIPU) - Azerbaijan
147. SOHRAM-CASRA - Centre Action Sociale Réhabilitation et Réadaptation pour les Victimes de la Torture, de la guerre et de la violence - Turquie
148. SOS-Torture/Burundi - Burundi
149. SUARAM - Malaysia
150. Syndicat national des agents de la formation et de l'education du Niger (SYNAFEN NIGER) - Niger
151. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) - Philippines
152. Thai Action Committee for Democaracy in Burma (TACDB) - Thailand
153. The Advocates for Human Rights - United States of America
154. The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House (BHRH) - Lithuania
155. The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) - Indonesia
156. The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
157. Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights United States of America
158. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) - France
159. World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) - France
160. World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) - Switzerland
161. Xumek asociación para la promoción y protección de los derechos humanos - Argentina

Civic space in Belarus is rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

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