A mission of the Socialist International visited Minsk, Belarus, from 17 to 19 April, where meetings were held with leaders of the SI-member Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Narodnaya Hramada), BSDP (NH), the Consultative Council of opposition political parties, leaders of trade union organisations, members of analytical and research centres, representatives of non-governmental organisations, editors-in-chief of Belarusian media and journalists.
Members of the mission were Prime Minister Milos Zeman, of the Czech Social Democratic Party, CSSD, and Chair of the SI Committee on Peace, Democracy and Human Rights; Luis Ayala, SI Secretary General; and, Urban Ahlin, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Swedish Parliament (Social Democratic Party, SAP).
Mission members also met with victims of political repression, among them a former Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus, a member of parliament and a journalist, who had been held under arrest by the Belarusian authorities and the wife of a disappeared politician and businessman. Mikalai Statkevich, leader of the BSDP (NH), has been held under administrative arrest by the Lukashenko regime a number of times, most recently in March this year.
The mission, which visited Belarus following a decision taken at the last meeting of the Committee on Peace, Democracy and Human Rights, underlined the commitment of the SI and its member parties in support of all democratic forces and the Belarusian Social Democratic Party in their efforts to establish democratic governance and the full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in this Republic, which remains in the grip of authoritarianism. A full report of the visit will be presented to the SI Council in Casablanca.