Canada will Contribute to Free Elections in Belarus
Senator Doug Finley during his speech on the situation in Belarus in the Parliament of Canada last week called on all Senators to unite in support of a free and democratic Belarus.
Debates on the situation in Belarus were held in the Canadian Parliament during a visit to the country of the chairman of the United Civil Party Anatol Lyabedzka, his deputy Yaraslau Ramanchuk, the leader of the civil campaign "Speak the Truth!" Uladzimir Nyaklayeu, and the international secretary of the campaign Andrei Dzmitriyeu.
At the beginning of his speech, Senator Doug Finley mentioned that some members of the Belarusian delegation had been imprisoned for their political beliefs at various times, as well as that in 2004 Anatol Lyabedzka had been beaten by security forces.
Senator also focused on events that happened during the presidential elections in 2006.
According to him, this election campaign "caused outrage all over the world; many countries condemned the elections that were outrageously rigged". At that time opposition activists, including 10 leaders of the election campaign and more than 100 activists, have been attacked, arrested and even imprisoned.
"Belarusian KGB called the opposition as terrorists who want to hold a violent revolution; that was one of many ways to intimidate voters. There were many other abuses of state power by the company of Mr. Lukashenka aimed at restriction of free and fair elections.
The opposition went to streets after the announcement of "the official results" according to which Lukashenka received more than 80 percent of the vote. Thousands of people gathered in Minsk and demanded to hold free and fair elections. Many opposition activists were beaten and thrown in jail. Media representatives were arrested while covering protests, including a Canadian journalist from Quebec" – the site ucpb.org quotes Doug Finley.
The senator also mentioned that Canada had condemned the election results of 2006 claiming that they had not met international standards and also included Belarus in a list which limited exports to the republic.
"During the upcoming election campaign, Canada should contribute to legitimate, free and fair elections that meet international standards", said Doug Finley.
"We must ensure access of opposition candidates and their supporters to state media. Belarusians should have free and fair choice. Our responsibility as one of the greatest democracies in the world is not only to do everything possible to ensure that the Belarusians have received this choice, but also to send a clear signal to all Belarusians that Canada is in favour of open, fair and democratic processes", said the senator.
He also expressed the hope that, together with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Canada will play an important role in ensuring free elections, because "we have great experience in providing assistance in holding fair elections".
"I call upon the distinguished senators to join me in supporting a free and democratic Belarus", said Doug Finley in the end of his speech.