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United States Mission to the OSCE Statement on the Human Rights Situation in Belarus March 1, 2012

As delivered by Ambassador Ian Kelly
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
March 1, 2012

The United States remains deeply concerned about serious violations of human rights, fundamental freedoms and rule of law in Belarus.

We are extremely disappointed with the politically-motivated conviction of Syarhei Kavelenka on February 24 to more than two years of imprisonment for alleged violation of parole. Kavelenka was arrested on December 19, 2011 – on the anniversary of the flawed presidential election. We are deeply concerned about his physical condition, as well as the health of all political prisoners in Belarus.

We note with concern the administrative detention of ten days each for opposition activists Pavel Vinahradau and Alyaksandr Artsybashau for alleged involvement in an unsanctioned protest.

We call on Belarus to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, to ensure their full rehabilitation and to stop the ongoing harassment of political activists, civil society representatives, and independent journalists.

Finally, we note with deep regret the Government of Belarus’s decision to request that the European Union Head of Delegation and Polish Ambassador to Belarus return to their capitals for consultations, while simultaneously recalling its Permanent Representative in Brussels and Ambassador in Warsaw. These actions, like the expulsion of the U.S. Ambassador to Belarus in 2008 and the closure of the OSCE Office in Minsk in March 2011, only deepen Belarus’s self-isolation. The United States joins the EU and its member states in calling on Belarus to end its repression of civil society and the democratic opposition.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

http://osce.usmission.gov/mar_1_12_belarus.html

News of Belarus

Tough sentences announced to Brest antifascists

A verdict was delivered today in the case of Brest antifascists acused of participation in a group fight with neonazis which happened on May 8, 2013.

Antifascists were tried under the art. 339.3 (malicious group hooliganism) and 147.2 (malicious bodily harm). The case was qualified as malicious due to the fact of pepper spray usage in the fight.

Dzmitry Stsyashenka got 5 years of penal colony with reinforced regime (339.3) and 500 euro of damages to be paid to the injured nazis.

Exclusive: European Union moves to suspend sanctions on Belarus

The European Union is likely to lift some sanctions on Belarus, including its travel ban on President Alexander Lukashenko, after he freed a group of political prisoners last month, diplomatic sources say.

An arms embargo against the former Soviet republic would remain. But in an overture to the man the West calls Europe's "last dictator", diplomats are looking at suspending visa bans and asset freezes on most of around 200 people under sanctions for rights abuses, some since disputed elections in 2004.