On the night of 18th March 2010 the Young European Federalists (JEF) and numerous global partners protested against Europe's last standing dictatorship on the fourth anniversary of the disputed presidential elections in Belarus. The fifth consecutive "Free Belarus Action" took place in 125 cities on four continents, including cities in almost all European countries, even Belarus!
The Young European Federalists' signature street action saw young people gagging statues and each other and posing with signs reading "Give the people of Belarus a voice" in protest against Lukaschenko's dictatorship, which has left the 10 million Belarusian citizens deprived of fundamental human rights, including the right to free speech.
"Free Belarus means: when Belarus is free from the death penalty, celebrates good human rights, there is freedom of speech for all its citizens, freedom of press and NGOs and a process where the freedom of electing one's leadership in the elections is truly democratic – only then can we speak of a united, strong, and fair Europe," said JEF-Europe President Philippe Adriaenssens. "The European Union that JEF believes in is one with a clear foreign policy – not one turning a blind eye to human rights violations happening at its doorstep."
Bordeaux (France). Photo by JEF-Europe
"Actions speak louder than words," continued Free Belarus Action coordinator Elisabeth Velle, "yet every year we hope it will be the last time we have to organise this action. Condemning a regime is not enough. The European Union should do everything in its power to support civil society within the Belorussian borders, make sure that the next general elections are under full observation of election monitors and guarantee the freedom of the press and political opinion. Moreover, it is time that the suspension of sanctions on Lukaschenko and his officials were lifted. Europe must send out the message that its core values do not allow it to silently tolerate human rights violations and that it in no way supports Belarusian dictatorship."
Zurich (Switzerland). Photo by JEF-Europe
"We urge European Commission Vice-President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton to foster greater co-operation between Member States and European Institutions, and to assist Europe in releasing the people of Belarus from the dictatorial grip. This way, Belarus can be on its way to join the democracies of Europe," concluded Adriaenssens.