Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Belarus Crackdown

RFE/RL Launches 'Voices Of Solidarity' Project For Belarusian Detainees

Former U.S. President George W. Bush is among those who are participating in "Voices Of Solidarity."
Former U.S. President George W. Bush is among those who are participating in "Voices Of Solidarity."
RFE/RL's Belarus Service has launched a project meant to call attention to the hundreds of activists and opposition supporters jailed in the wake of the country's controversial elections on December 19.

The elections handed a fourth term in office to authoritarian incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka, frequently referred to as "Europe's last dictator." The vote was widely criticized by the Belarusian opposition and Western observers as falling short of democratic standards.

Peaceful postelection protests ended in violence after Belarusian security forces cracked down on demonstrators, beating and arresting hundreds of people, including a number of Lukashenka's presidential opponents.

The "Voices Of Solidarity" project brings together dozens of prominent international and Belarusian politicians and artists to read the names of opposition supporters detained after the vote.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush read the names of the five presidential candidates who were being held in a KGB prison.

The five presidential candidates -- Ales Mikhalevich, Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu, Vital Rymasheuski, Andrey Sannikau, and Mikalay Statkevich -- face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on charges of organizing public unrest.

The names of those still imprisoned in Minsk were broadcast by RFE/RL's Belarus Service on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, former Czech President Vaclav Havel, and activist Yelena Bonner, the widow of Soviet-era dissident Andrei Sakharov, also participated in the "Voices Of Solidarity" project.

(You can listen to the reading of all the names by clicking here.)

Belarusian officials remain defiant, with Lukashenka referring on December 30 to a "handful of traitors" who were trying to "overthrow the country" and hinting that some detainees could face stiff sentences. In 2006, former presidential candidate and Lukashenka rival Alyaksandr Kazulin was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison and was pardoned only in 2008 under EU pressure.

Officials in Minsk have also lashed out at the international community, with authorities saying on December 31 they are halting the operations in Belarus of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which observed the December 19 elections and was unsparing in its criticism of the vote and the subsequent violence.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Savinykh announced the move, saying simply the OSCE mission's mandate "had been fulfilled."

Witnesses have also reported that members of the Belarusian secret police, or KGB, have been searching the homes and offices of independent journalists who covered the December 19 presidential elections.

The Associated Press quoted one photojournalist, Yulia Doroshkevich, as saying her cameras, computers, and tape recorder were seized during a search of her apartment. The press watchdog group Reporters Without Borders has condemned the raids, which it says are aimed at seizing all documents related to press coverage of the election.

The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, also condemned as "unacceptable" detentions and assaults on journalists in Minsk following the election.

A detainee arrested in the postelection protests gestures from a prison cell at a detention center in Minsk on December 29.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Christopher from: Stembridge
January 01, 2011 08:16
This is a fitting demonstration - though would it not be more appropriate to see a photo of someone like Havel rather than Bush alongside the article?
In Response

by: Laurie from: Maryland
January 03, 2011 16:43
Instead of complaining about the photo of President Bush (who has long been outspoken on behalf of those struggling for human rights and democracy), Christopher from Sternbridge might ponder why on those causes, the voice of our current president is so very rarely heard.
In Response

by: Diogenes from: Florida
January 04, 2011 17:00
It's ironic, Laurie, how Bush was often outspoken on behalf of those struggling for human rights and democracy abroad, yet did so much at home that was in contradiction of both...
In Response

by: Catherine Fitzpatrick from: New York
January 05, 2011 08:12
If you don't like the leaders reading these names, get your own and other leaders to read the names.

It's just that simple.

These are the readers who read the names. Other leaders need to read the names. Get yours to do that.

by: eric d meyer from: albuquerque NM USA
January 03, 2011 19:00
Right on, Laurie! Not to excuse the Bush/Cheney regime for the Iraq war, Guatanamo, the CIA black sites etc.etc. But isn't it time Barack ("Hope for Chump Change"?) Obama started earning that peace prize? (And stopped the CIA "targeted assassination" policy?).

Belarus Crackdown

After a disputed presidential election on December 19 in Belarus, hundreds of protesters still remain in jail. Candidates who ran against the incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka could be jailed for up to 15 years. This page brings you some of the best ongoing reporting on the postelection crisis from RFE/RL's Belarus Service.


Photogallery Belarus: Scenes Of The Crackdown

Police in Belarus beat demonstrators with batons and rounded up opposition leaders in a violent crackdown after an election on December 19 that returned incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka for a fourth term with 80 percent of the vote.

Video Police Crack Down On Opposition In Minsk

Thousands of protesters gathered in downtown Minsk soon after the polls closed on December 19 as oppositon presidential candidate Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu addressed the crowd, calling for President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to step down. Security forces in antiriot gear forcibly dispersed the crowd, detaining hundreds and beating protesters with batons.

Video Journalist Beaten Amid Minsk Protests

An RFE/RL correspondent was beaten and his camera was broken as he covered police dispersing opposition protests in downtown Minsk. Security forces used batons to break up the crowd and detained hundreds of protesters.

Audio Slide Show Outrage In Minsk As Lukashenka Claims Victory

RFE/RL writer at large James Kirchick reports from the scene of a police crackdown in Belarus as thousands protested the reelection of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Video Belarus Protesters Hold Vigil Outside Prison

Opposition supporters in Belarus have been holding candlelight vigils outside the Minsk prison where hundreds of their fellow activists have been detained since mass protests on December 19. The detainees include several political candidates who ran against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

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