Socialist International condemns lack of democracy and repression in Belarus

21 October 2004

The Socialist International deplores the climate of fear and intimidation imposed by the government of Alexander Lukashenko during the run-up to the recent referendum and legislative elections and the subsequent repressive measures taken against members of the opposition and the press.

It condemns the arrest and imprisonment by the Belarusian authorities of demonstrators in Minsk, including Mikalai Statkevich, a leader of the Free Belarus coalition and Chair of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Narodnaya Hramada), a member party of the Socialist International, and other members of opposition parties in the country, and calls upon the government to release immediately all those detained.

The International believes that the continuing lack of democracy in Belarus should not be tolerated any longer and calls upon the European Union, Russia and the international community to act decisively in support of the aspirations of the Belarusian people for political change.

The International again expresses its full solidarity with the political forces and civil society struggling for democracy and basic human rights in Belarus, rejects the systematic undermining of the rights to free expression and free association and the institution of an unlimited number of presidential terms through an undemocratic referendum and reaffirms its support for the right of the people of Belarus to peacefully protest the absence of conditions necessary for free and fair elections.