The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz issued the following statement on the release of two political prisoners in Belarus :
“I welcome the release of former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikaw and the political activist Dzmitry Bandarenka. This is good news, but sixteen months too late. These freedom fighters should not have been imprisoned in the first place.
I call on Belarus authorities to release all remaining political prisoners, including another presidential candidate, Mikalay Statkevich and Ales Bialiatski, Head of the human rights centre ‘Viasna’.
It is appalling to think that in the 21st century Europe, political prisoners still exist. As stated by the European Parliament on several occasions, the unconditional release and full rehabilitation of all prisoners of conscience is a necessary condition for resuming dialogue with the Belarusian authorities.
I urge President Lukashenka to stop depriving the Belarusian people of their fundamental freedoms. Engagement with the EU would provide great benefits for Belarusian society. We cannot afford to lose any more time – Minsk should seize the opportunity to embrace the long awaited change.”