The 33 member organizations of the Civic Solidarity Platform have urged the Belarusian authorities to release human rights defender Ales Byalyatski and allow the Vyasna human rights group to continue its operations.
The Civic Solidarity Platform unites human rights organizations representing some 20 countries.
In their statement, the organizations called on the Belarusian authorities to "stop the ongoing repression against the staff of this organization [Vyasna] and all other human rights NGOs." The statement condemned the recent confiscation of Vyasna’s office, an apartment in a residential building in Minsk that belonged to Mr. Byalyatski prior to his conviction.
"This new attack on the right to freedom of association is the last of a series of measures taken by the Belarus authorities to stifle dissent and outlaw, harass and prosecute human rights NGOs and their representatives. While the right to freedom of association is protected by the Belarus constitution, the authorities are violating the country’s supreme law as well as international standards that Belarus has ratified under the UN and commitments it has undertaken as a member of the OSCE," the statement said.
The organizations reiterated that Mr. Byalyatski’s trial was "marked by blatant violations of the right of defence and the right to a fair trial." "No international observers were granted a visa to enter Belarus to observe the trial, among those denied entry were staff members of International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, both members of the Civic Solidarity Platform," said the statement.
"The Civic Solidarity Platform condemns the new steps taken by the authorities aimed at putting an end to the activities of the famous NGO that has continued to courageously carry out its work during the incarceration of its head in spite of the harassment its members have been increasingly subjected to over the last year."
The human rights groups urged the international community to support their demands and persist in calling upon the Belarusian government to "refrain from any further attempts at stifling civil society."