Dear Mr. Pres­id­ent

We, 48 under­signed organ­iz­a­tions from 24 coun­tries, strongly con­demn the con­tinu­ing wave of deten­tions and har­ass­ment of peace­ful pro­test­ers, journ­al­ists, human rights defend­ers, civil soci­ety act­iv­ists, anarch­ists and oppos­i­tion party mem­bers in Belarus.

Most of the deten­tions and har­ass­ment are linked to par­ti­cip­a­tion in peace­ful protests demand­ing the can­cel­la­tion of Pres­id­en­tial Decree No. 3, the so-called “social para­site” legis­la­tion, which imposes a tax on unem­ployed people in Belarus. Decree No. 3 oblig­ates cit­izens to work a spe­cif­ic num­ber of days or pay a spe­cial duty to the State under threat of arrest. This is con­trary to Art. 41 of the Belarus­i­an Con­sti­tu­tion and viol­ates inter­na­tion­al human rights law.

Accord­ing to reports from Belarus­i­an and inter­na­tion­al human rights organ­iz­a­tions, as of 22 March 2017 more than 250 people have been detained since 3 March 2017, includ­ing at least 31 journ­al­ists. At least 110 people have been sen­tenced to 3–15 days of admin­is­trat­ive arrest. Many of them remain in deten­tion, while oth­ers have been sub­ject to dif­fer­ent forms of har­ass­ment.

We strongly con­demn the fact that sev­er­al deten­tions of peace­ful pro­test­ers at dif­fer­ent places across Belarus have been car­ried out with the excess­ive use of force by Belarus­i­an secur­ity officers.

Sev­er­al Belarus­i­an organ­iz­a­tions have announced a demon­stra­tion that will take place in Minsk and in oth­er cit­ies in Belarus on 25 March 2017. We are deeply con­cerned about the phys­ic­al and psy­cho­lo­gic­al integ­rity of the par­ti­cipants of these protest marches.

As the pres­id­ent of Belarus we urge you:

    • to respect the right to peace­ful assembly and expres­sion
    • to ensure that there are no obstruc­tions to the exer­cising of these rights in Belarus, includ­ing in rela­tion to the planned demon­stra­tion on 25 March 2017 in Minsk and in oth­er cit­ies across the coun­try
    • to guar­an­tee in all cir­cum­stances the phys­ic­al and psy­cho­lo­gic­al integ­rity of all peace­ful pro­test­ers at the demon­stra­tion on 25 March 2017 in Minsk as well as at all oth­er peace­ful demon­stra­tions across Belarus
    • to refrain from the use of excess­ive force by secur­ity officers on 25 March 2017 in Minsk as well as at all oth­er peace­ful demon­stra­tions across Belarus
    • to ensure that journ­al­ists are able to fully exer­cise their pro­fes­sion­al duties, includ­ing dur­ing peace­ful demon­stra­tions
    • to imme­di­ately and uncon­di­tion­ally release all pro­test­ers, journ­al­ists, human rights defend­ers, civil soci­ety act­iv­ists and oppos­i­tion mem­bers who have been detained in con­nec­tion with the cur­rent wave of demon­stra­tions solely for peace­fully exer­cising their right to free­dom of assembly and expres­sion
    • to refrain from pre­vent­ively detain­ing journ­al­ists, human rights defend­ers, civil soci­ety act­iv­ists, anarch­ists and oppos­i­tion act­iv­ists
    • to imme­di­ately stop the per­se­cu­tion, har­ass­ment and intim­id­a­tion of those who exer­cise their right to free­dom of assembly, expres­sion and asso­ci­ation and ensure these rights to all Belarus­i­an cit­izens
    • to abol­ish Pres­id­en­tial Decree No. 3 since it viol­ates inter­na­tion­al human rights law

Sig­nat­or­ies:

Albani­an Hel­sinki Com­mit­tee (Albania)
Ana­lyt­ic­al Cen­ter for Intereth­nic Cooper­a­tion and Con­sulta­tions (Geor­gia)
Art­icle 19 (UK)
Asso­ci­ation UMDPL (Ukraine)
Bir Duino (Kyrgyz­stan)
Bul­gari­an Hel­sinki Com­mit­tee (Bul­garia)
Cen­ter for Civil Liber­ties (Ukraine)
Cen­ter for the Devel­op­ment of Demo­cracy and Human Rights (Rus­sia)
Char­ity found­a­tion “East-SOS” (Ukraine)
Civic Belarus (Czech Repub­lic)
CIVICUS: World Alli­ance for Cit­izen Par­ti­cip­a­tion (South Africa)
Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Journ­al­ists (USA)
Crude Account­ab­il­ity (USA)
FIDH (France)
Free­dom Files (Russia/​Poland)
Ger­man-Rus­si­an Exchange (Ger­many)
Hel­sinki Com­mit­tee for Human Rights in Ser­bia (Ser­bia)
Hel­sinki Com­mit­tee of Armenia (Armenia)
Hel­sinki Found­a­tion for Human Rights (Poland)
Human Rights Cen­ter “Pos­tup” (Ukraine)
Human Rights Cen­ter (Azerbaijan)
Human Rights Inform­a­tion Cen­ter (Ukraine)
Human Rights Mon­it­or­ing Insti­tute (Lithuania)
Human​rights​.ch (Switzer­land)
Index of Cen­sor­ship (UK)
Insti­tute Respub­lica (Ukraine)
Inter­na­tion­al Part­ner­ship for Human Rights (Bel­gi­um)
IRFS (Azerbaijan)
JEF Europe: Young European Fed­er­al­ists (Bel­gi­um)
Kaza­kh­stan Inter­antion­al Bur­eau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law (Kaza­kh­stan)
Kharkiv Human Rights Pro­tec­tion Group (Ukraine)
KRF Pub­lic Altern­at­ive (Ukraine)
Libereco – Part­ner­ship for Human Rights (Switzerland/​Germany)
Mace­do­ni­an Hel­sinki Com­mit­tee (Mace­do­nia)
Memori­al Inter­na­tion­al (Rus­sia)
Menschen­rechte in Belarus (Ger­many)
Moscow Hel­sinki Group (Rus­sia)
NESEHNUTI – Inde­pend­ent Social Eco­lo­gic­al Move­ment (Czech Repub­lic)
Nor­we­gi­an Hel­sinki Com­mit­tee (Nor­way)
Ost­grup­pen – Swedish Ini­ti­at­ive for Demo­cracy and Human Rights (Sweden)
Promo LEX (Mol­dova)
Pro­tec­tion of Rights without Bor­ders NGO (Armenia)
Pub­lic Ver­dict Found­a­tion (Rus­sia)
Report­ers Without Bor­ders Inter­na­tion­al (France)
The Neth­er­lands Hel­sinki Com­mit­tee (The Neth­er­lands)
The Swiss Hel­sinki Com­mit­tee (Switzer­land)
Ukrain­i­an Hel­sinki Human Rights Uni­on (Ukraine)
World Organ­isa­tion Against Tor­ture (Switzer­land)

Categories: Statements