Strasbourg 24.11.2022 The European Parliament strongly condemns the unjustified and politically motivated sentences handed down to more than 1 400 political prisoners in Belarus, among others members of the so-called “Autukhovich twelve”. It also denounces the ongoing incarceration of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ales Bialiatski and urges the regime of Belarusian dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka to ensure his release ahead of the award ceremony in Oslo on 10 December. (Image above: archive)
While endorsing the Belarusian democratic opposition’s position that Belarus should be recognised as an occupied territory from which Russian troops should immediately withdraw, Parliament strongly condemns the Lukashenka government’s involvement in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
The resolution notes that the Belarusian regime shares responsibility with Russia for war crimes in Ukraine, for which it should be held accountable before an international tribunal and the International Criminal Court.
In addition, MEPs reiterate their call on EU countries and the European Commission to strictly impose the same sanctions on Belarus that they have imposed on Russia. They also encourage the EU institutions to support Belarusian independent news outlets such as Nexta . and call for more systematic cooperation between the EU and representatives of Belarusian democratic forces.
The resolution was adopted by show of hands. F
Brussels 15.07.2022 Belarus has officially filed a request to become a member state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the Secretary General Zhang Ming told the reporters.
“Recently, Belarus officially filed a request to join the SCO as a full-fledged member,” he said.
The official membership procedures will begin in the nearest future, following the announcement.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was established in June 2001 in Shanghai. Its current members are India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Brussels 28.01.2021 Anna van Densky “The number of political prisoners in Belarus has now reached 1000, and continues to grow. This shameful milestone reflects ongoing crackdown of the Lukashenko (pictured) regime against his own population. In addition, many thousands of protestors have fled the country to avoid persecution” reads the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson on the political prisoners in Belarus.
“In today’s Belarus, the space for democratic political opposition and free and independent media activities has been drastically closed off . The Lukashenko regime continues detaining and imprisoning people in appalling conditions, exposing them to ill-treatment and torture and have them condemned to long prison sentences in political trials conducted behind closed doors.
“Legally defending political prisoners has become dangerous, with more than 40 lawyers reported to have their licenses revoked.
“Belarus must adhere to its international commitments and obligations within the UN and OSCE. The EU reiterates its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners. The EU will continue to work for justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators.
Strasbourg 26.10.2021 Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke to MEPs about the continuing crackdown on dissenting voices in Belarus and called on the EU to take firm action against the regime.
“The Belarusian regime has shown itself willing to seize individuals from international flights, misuse international agencies to punish dissent, to weaponise migrants in a way deliberately designed to undermine the stability and security of Europe,” said Tsikhanouskaya during her speech in the Parliament on 24 November.
The Belarusian opposition leader called on the EU to help address the ongoing crisis with migrants on the EU-Belarus borders: “Both Belarussians and migrants are now hostages of the regime and these two problems cannot be solved separately.”
She said the EU should coordinate sanctions against the regime with the US and the UK to make the sanctions “effective and not only symbolic”.
Ahead of Tsikhanouskaya’s speech, Parliament President David Sassoli condemned the actions of the Belarusian regime and called on other institutions to defend the respect of fundamental rights in the country.
“Belarus continues to violate the rights of its citizens, to silence civil society’s voice, to use repression as a daily weapon,” said Sassoli. “The regime didn’t hesitate to use men, women and children who needed protection, putting their lives in danger without any respect for fundamental human rights, just to destabilise the EU.”
Tsikhanouskaya’s address comes amid a continuing geopolitical crisis on the EU-Belarus border. The Belarusian regime has been funnelling migrants primarily from the Middle East to the country’s border with the EU, and in particular Poland. In response, the EU agreed to expand the bloc’s existing sanctions on Belarus to target, among others, airlines and officials involved in bringing migrants to the border areas.
Brussels 11.11.2011 Polish law enforcement officers thwarted an attempt to storm the border by a large group of migrants late on Wednesday evening, November 10, Spokeswoman for the Polish border guards service Ewelina Szczepanska reported on Thursday.
“The incident occurred late last night. The situation is very complicated. It constantly comes to attempts to storm the border. 150 violent migrants tried to cross the border in the area of Bialowieza this time. They threw branches and stones at our officers, attempted to break the fence with these branches,” she said.
“This attempt was prevented. Later some of these people were taken to the forest by the Belarusian law enforcement agencies. The rest made bonfires,” Szczepanska informed. According to her, the border guards have been monitoring the development of the situation and expect similar attempts in the coming days. “We don’t rule this out. We are ready and will not allow any illegal border crossing,” she stated.
Polish border guards thwarted about 33,000 attempts to illegally cross the border in the past year. Most of those trying to enter Poland are Iraqi nationals who want to reach Germany.
Brussels 09.11.2021 “The Council today adopted a decision partially suspending the application of the EU-Belarus visa facilitation agreement. This decision is a response to the ongoing hybrid attack launched by the Belarusian regime.
“The suspension covers the provisions that waive requirements for documentary evidence, regulate the issuing of multiple entry visas and reduce visa application fees as they apply to officials of the Belarus regime. This decision will not affect ordinary citizens of Belarus, who will continue to enjoy the same benefits under the visa facilitation agreement as they do currently.
“The decision will now be published in the Official Journal and will enter into force on the second day following publication. Under the visa facilitation agreement the decision on suspension is to be notified to the other party no later than 48 hours before its entry into force.
The EU-Belarus visa facilitation agreement entered into force on 1 July 2020, in parallel with the EU-Belarus readmission agreement. The purpose of the agreement is to facilitate the issuance of short stay visas and thereby contribute to enhancing people-to-people contacts and sharing values and democratic principles.
Following the political upheaval in Belarus and the restrictive measures adopted by the EU, in June 2021 Belarus began to organise flights and internal travel to facilitate the transit of migrants towards the EU, first to Lithuania and then to Latvia and Poland. Belarus also announced on 28 June 2021 that it would suspend the readmission agreement with the EU.
Hundreds of migrants are camped in frigid weather behind a razor-wire fence on the Poland-Belarus border. Poland has massed thousands of troops to keep them out, and prevented journalists, aid organizations and EU officials from traveling to the area.
Brussels 03.08.2021 Belarusian anti-government activist was found dead in a park near in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Tuesday, August 3, and according to the police they had begun an investigation into whether it was a suicide or a murder.
The activist, Vitaly Shishov, went missing a day before after going out for a morning jog, said his colleagues, who accused the Belarusian authorities of assassinating him. On Tuesday, the Kyiv police said that he had been found hanged in the park and that their investigation included the possibility that the death was a “murder masked as a suicide.”
“The full picture of events will be confirmed after the questioning of witnesses, the analysis of video recordings” and other investigative operation, the police said.
Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, Belarus’s authoritarian leader since 1994, has jailed thousands after large-scale protests over his rule last year. Now, events in recent weeks have indicated that he is also escalating his campaign against the growing number of Belarus activists, living in exile abroad.
Shishov’s acquaintances told the Viasna human rights center that he had previously noticed that he was being watched while jogging. Also, he and his girlfriend were approached by suspicious people who tried to start a conversation.
“Belarusian House in Ukraine” is a non-profit public organization that provides assistance to Belarusian citizens who fled to Ukraine.
“The Belarusian authorities ordered Head of Mission at the Embassy of Lithuania in Minsk and the Consul General in Hrodna to leave the country by 11 July, drastically limiting Vilnius’ diplomatic presence in the country” reads the statement by the spokesperson on limiting the diplomatic presence of Lithuania. (Image:Viktar Babaryka)
“With this, the Lukashenko regime is closing further diplomatic channels of communication. By also reducing the consular staff of EU member states’ diplomatic missions, the regime limits the opportunities for the Belarusians to travel to the EU. Already last October, at the request of the regime, the Lithuanian and Polish Ambassadors left the country, and in May this year the entire staff of Latvia’s embassy in Minsk was ordered to leave. Most recently, the Belarusian authorities asked the Head of the EU Delegation in Minsk to return to Brussels for consultations.
“By these actions, the regime further isolates itself. Such decisions are also detrimental to Belarus and its population. Keeping diplomatic channels of communication open in time of difficulties is crucial. The EU calls on the Belarusian authorities to allow full presence of the EU’s and it Member States’ diplomatic missions to allow diplomacy to work”.
Brussels 07.06.2021 “Viktar Babaryka was sentenced to 14 years in prison today. He had been held in detention since 18 June 2020, for the sole reason to have tried to exercise his political right to stand as a candidate in the presidential elections in August 2020” reads the statement by the spokesperson on sentencing Viktar Babaryka and other political trials.
“This sentence is one of at least 125 unfair and arbitrary recent verdicts by Belarusian courts in politically motivated trials, often held behind closed doors and without due process of law.
“Today, Belarus has over 530 political prisoners, hundreds of documented instances of torture, and continued repression against all segments of society to silence all dissent and ill treatment in detention centres. The Lukashenko regime clearly violates international human rights that it has committed to uphold. This has been most recently confirmed also by the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus.
“The EU demands the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Babaryka as well as of all political prisoners, detained journalists and people who are behind bars for exercising their fundamental rights. The regime must halt repression and injustice and hold perpetrators to account.
“The EU will continue its efforts to push for accountability for the brutal repression by the Belarusian authorities. The EU also continues to call for a comprehensive and genuine political dialogue with representatives of the democratic opposition and civil society, facilitated by the OSCE, leading to new free and fair elections.
“Serious human rights violations come at a price. Since last October, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures in response to the continued intimidation and violent repression of peaceful protesters, opposition members and journalists. In line with its gradual approach, the EU stands ready to consider further measures”.
Brussels 28.06.2021 “Belarus has taken another step backwards today by suspending its participation in the Eastern Partnership” the EU Council President Charles Michel (pictured) wrote on his Twitter micro blog page.
“This will escalate tensions further and have a clear negative impact on the people of Belarus by depriving them of opportunities provided by our cooperation” he added.
The head of the European Union’s Delegation to Belarus Dirk Schuebel was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today. The diplomats have informed him about the steps Belarus has been “forced to take” in response to the “unprecedented restrictive measures” imposed on the country by the EU.
Belarus has suspended its participation in the Eastern Partnership initiative of the European Union, the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on its website on 28 June.