SI condemns sentence handed down in Minsk to Mikalai Statkevich

27 May 2011

The SI denounces and condemns the decision by the Belarusian courts to sentence Mikalai Statkevich, chair of the SI member Belarus Social Democratic Party (BSDP-NH) and presidential candidate in the elections of last December, to six years in prison, a sentencing which follows those of other leaders and presidential candidates in recent days. Having already been detained for several months in a KGB prison in Minsk, and accused of causing unrest during the public demonstrations which took place after the presidential elections of 19 December 2010, Mikalai Statkevich has suffered permanent restrictions on contact with his family, friends and legal representatives, thus violating his human rights, in particular his right to a defence and a fair trial.

The Socialist International also expresses its condemnation of the incarceration of other opposition presidential candidates who were arrested in the same circumstances, and its solidarity with them. It is totally unacceptable to restrict political demonstrations with repression, or to limit the freedom of the Belarusian people through intimidation or threats of administrative and judicial reprisals. The International expresses once more its commitment to and full support for the efforts which the political forces of the opposition and Belarusian society continue to make for democracy and the creation of better living conditions for the Belarusian people.

The International, in light of this recent news, underlines the importance of solidarity and the mobilisation of the international community against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko in order that all Belarusian political forces can express themselves freely, with their rights fully respected.

The Socialist International calls for:

- The immediate release of Mikalai Statkevich, as well as the other candidates, leaders and political and human rights activists incarcerated today in the prisons of Minsk;

- The full respect of human rights, fundamental freedoms and all other rights of the people of Belarus which are today abused and unrecognised by the Lukashenko regime;

- The immediate establishment of democratic governance, with guarantees of the democratic rights to which the Belarusian people aspire and which they demand.