Opposition Launch Information Campaign Against Kidnappings of Activists
Opposition leaders have announced an information campaign against the intimidation of opposition activists through mock kidnappings.
The decision to conduct such a campaign was made at a meeting held in Minsk on Monday, which was attended by Viktar Karnyayenka and Yury Hubarevich, deputy chairmen of the Movement for Freedom; Alyaksey Yanukevich, chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front; Dzyanis Sadowski, a member of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party; Zmitser Dashkevich and Artur Finkevich, leaders of youth groups Malady Front and Maladaya Belarus; and Vyachaslaw Siwchyk and Zmitser Bandarenka, leaders of groups called Razam and European Belarus.
The campaign would be in response to the three most recent kidnapping-style incidents.
On November 27, young opposition activist Uladzimir Lemesh was grabbed on a Minsk street by unidentified people, handcuffed, forced into a vehicle without license plates and dropped off in a forest around 10 miles south of Minsk.
On December 5, Mr. Dashkevich was picked up near his home and driven to a forest some 40 miles north of Minsk.
On December 6, Yawhen Afnahel, a leader of European Belarus, was bundled into a car at a bus stop and driven to a village some 10 miles east of Minsk.
Three more opposition activists, Artur Finkevich, Anastasiya Palazhanka and Dzyanis Karnow, were "kidnapped" between December 2008 and March 2009.
It may be said about these people that they were subjected to torture and death threats, Mr. Bandarenka said. "This is in fact the simulation of an execution," he stressed. "This is no longer a joke. There must be a response and it shouldn't be limited to statements."
Opposition leaders should inform their European partners about the abductions and the European Union should demand an end to this practice, Mr. Bandarenka said.
It is necessary to mount a full-court press on the authorities because this lawlessness should not continue, he said.
It is also necessary to urge the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to suspend any financial assistance to Belarus until safety is guaranteed to opposition activists, Mr. Bandarenka said. "These institutions should know what is done with the money that is provided to Belarus," he stressed.
Opposition activists stage demonstrations in downtown Minsk on the 16th day of every month to urge the authorities to stop politically motivated persecution and investigate the unsolved disappearances of four government opponents in 1999 and 2000, Mr. Bandarenka said. This month's demonstration should have the slogans "Stop to Disappearances!" and "Kidnappers to The Hague!" he said. The KGB should realize that there is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity, he added.