German and Swedish lawmakers: end harassment of human rights activists in Belarus

Press releases 02.12.2020

A total of 29 German and Swedish lawmakers and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas are demanding an end to the persecution and harassment of peaceful protesters and human rights defenders in Belarus, according to an urgent appeal sent to Belarusian authorities on Wednesday.

The letter, signed by Maas, six German and 23 Swedish members of parliament, specifically condemns the continuous targeting of Human Right Centre “Viasna,” a leading Belarusian non-governmental organisation and 2020 Right Livelihood Laureate. Viasna’s members and volunteers have been harassed in retaliation for their peaceful human rights activities.

The appeal calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Viasna human rights activists Marfa Rabkova and Andrei Chapiuk, both of whom are currently held in pre-trial detention for their human rights work.

“Over the past months, millions of Belarusians fighting for their rights saw unprecedented government repression and even deaths,” said Ales Bialiatski, Viasna’s founder and joint recipient of the 2020 Right Livelihood Award.

“This peaceful protest demanding respect for basic freedoms can only succeed with assistance from the international community. Otherwise, the entire country will be lost in a Stalinesque dictatorship. I am calling on Europe to stand with Belarusians in need!”

Signatories from the German Bundestag include Gyde Jensen (FDP, Chair of the Bundestag’s Human Rights Commission) and Dr Bärbel Kofler (SPD, Commissioner for Human Rights Policy), among others.

Swedish lawmakers signing the letter include Lotta Johnson Fornarve (Left Party, Third Vice Speaker) and Janine Alm Ericson (Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Swedish Green Party).

In a separate petition released on Wednesday, 31 Right Livelihood Laureates joined the calls by German and Swedish lawmakers demanding an end to the persecution of human rights activists in Belarus.

The Right Livelihood Award recipients signing the petition to support their fellow Laureate Viasna include Frances Moore Lappé (USA), Sulak Sivaraksa (Thailand), Bianca Jagger (Nicaragua), Sima Samar (Afghanistan), and Alyn Ware (New Zealand).

The lawmakers and Right Livelihood Laureates also urge Belarusian authorities to end impunity for perpetrators of human rights abuses and ensure that civil society activists can carry out their peaceful human rights work, free from any form of intimidation and reprisals.

Read the urgent appeal sent by German and Swedish lawmakers.

Read the petition by Right Livelihood Laureates.

Bialiatski and Viasna were named joint recipients of the 2020 Right Livelihood Award on October 1 “for their resolute struggle for the realisation of democracy and human rights in Belarus.”

Bialiatski is set to take part in a panel discussion on the situation in Belarus at 4 pm CET on Wednesday, Dec 2. Watch it here.

He will also appear in the 2020 Right Livelihood Award Presentation at 6 pm CET on Thursday, Dec 3. The event will be live-streamed here.

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