Belarus: SI rejects announced election results and condemns police violence

10 August 2020

The Socialist International rejects the announced results in the Belarusian presidential election and strongly condemns the use of violence against protestors across the country.  It calls for the release of all political prisoners, the organisation of free and fair elections with independent vote monitoring and for sanctions against those responsible for state sponsored violence and violations of human rights.

The SI has been closely engaged with the situation in Belarus for many years, supporting the democratic forces in that country, including its member party, Narodnaya Hramada. Throughout this period, members of opposition parties have been systematically persecuted and the regime has sought to curtail Belarusians' democratic rights and prevent any democratic challenge to the regime by imprisoning prospective opposition candidates and disqualifying them from participating in the elections on fabricated charges. Those subject to arbitrary detention and sentencing include the leader of Narodnaya Hramada, Mikalai Statkevich, its secretary general Sergey Sparish, and other party members.

In the weeks and months leading up to the presidential election on 9 August, the persecution of political opponents by the Lukashenko regime intensified. Criminal prosecutions have been conducted against members of the opposition and members of their campaign teams. In the days up to and including election day, key collaborators of opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya were arrested, a response to the overwhelming popular support shown for the key message of the Tikhanovskaya campaign, which centres on the holding of proper, free and fair elections within six months.

The rallies, demonstrations and popular protests across the country show that the Belarusian people are tired of being denied their democratic rights. Despite the clear strength of public feeling, the results presented by the electoral commission gave over 80% of the votes to Lukashenko. It is beyond doubt that yesterday's polls did not meet any standards for free and fair elections, a fact that is underlined by the lack of an independent judiciary or independent vote monitoring. The results of the presidential election have no credibility or legitimacy, and the SI calls on democracies around the world to reject this fabrication.

The SI fully supports the rights of all Belarusians to peacefully express their rejection of these illegitimate election results, and abhors the use of violence by the police against protesters. Human rights groups in the country have reported hundreds of arrests, dozens of injuries and the death of one person during the police crackdown. The people of Belarus want an end to 26 years of increasingly authoritarian and dictatorial rule by the regime of Lukashenko and their voices must be heard.

The Lukashenko regime has engaged in authoritarian and anti-democratic practices with impunity for many years, in part as a result of the lifting of sanctions despite a lack of progress on democracy and human rights, and the lack of a concerted international effort to bring about positive change. Now more than ever, it is incumbent on the international community to defend human rights, democracy and fundamental freedoms in Belarus. As protests continue under the threat of renewed state violence, it is imperative that democratic governments exert maximum pressure on the regime in order to avoid further bloodshed. This should include making those responsible for the severe violations of human rights during the protests subject to sanctions and holding them to account for their actions.

The Socialist International once more expresses its full solidarity with all those working to end authoritarianism and bring democracy to Belarus. It will continue to work together with democratic forces in the country, including its member party Narodnaya Hramada, as they strive for a better, democratic future with full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. We urge the international community to show their solidarity with the democratic opposition, and the courageous individuals who are struggling in the face of authoritarianism, oppression and persecution to bring an end to the dictatorial government of President Lukashenko.