Day of Solidarity with Belarus marked by the sentencing of important members of the democratic movement
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee strongly condemns the sentencing of a string of important democracy fighters in Belarus the last few weeks.
As many as 27 persons were tried in court last week for participation in the 19 December 2011 protests in Minsk. On 14 May, the leading opposition candidate to the presidential elections on 19 December, Andrei Sannikov, was sentenced to five years in prison and his wife, prominent journalist Irina Khalip, received two years’ suspended sentence today. Many others have been sentenced to up to several years’ in prison.
- If anything, the court processes against these democracy fighters have demonstrated two things, Secretary general Bjørn Engesland says. - Firstly, that on the night of 19 December 2010 all that was organised was a peaceful and justified protest against stolen elections. Secondly, that the Belarusian authorities are willing to on a large scale misuse the courts in an attempt of silencing democratic voices.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee deplores the harsh sentences against peaceful protesters and welcomes the European Union’s plans next week to impose economic sanctions against individual and commercial entities in Belarus in order to push for the release of political prisoners as well as other human rights improvements.