Mounting pressure on the Belarusian civil society emphasizes the need to support the forces acting for change in the country.
On the occasion the Belarusian human rights organization Viasna and its chairman Ales Bialiatski having been awarded the Politiken Freedom Award 2011, the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Villy Sovndal, states:
“The Belarusian regime has lost its legitimacy when opposition politicians are unable to run for office without being thrown in prison on election night. I strongly urge the Belarusian authorities to release and rehabilitate all political prisoners, including the chairman of Viasna, Ales Bialiatski.
It is intolerable that ordinary citizens in Belarus have to fear for their wellbeing when gathering peacefully to state their opinion. They cannot express themselves freely in the media either, as it is controlled heavy-handedly by Lukashenko’s regime.
The Belarusian people are being refused the most basic rights. That is why it is terribly important that we engage actively with the Belarusians who have the courage to fight for a decent life.”
President Lukashenko’s regime is cracking down on the political opposition, the civil society and the free media. The situation has further deteriorated since the presidential elections in December 2010, which triggered peaceful protests from the population; protests which were followed by a wave of mass arrests. There are still numerous political prisoners being held by the regime – including two former presidential candidates. New laws are being introduced, which restrict the rights of the civil society and provide unlimited power to the intelligence services, which can operate without being held to accountability.
Denmark has in line with the EU reacted with severe criticism to these violations of individual human rights by introducing sanctions against persons involved in offenses against human rights as well as against companies with close ties to President Lukashenko’s regime. Concurrent to these reactions, Denmark actively supports the Belarusian civil society.