Updated at 21:13,24-10-2016

Human rights defenders: situation in Belarus is difficult and stable

10-12-2012, 22:11
Human rights defenders: situation in Belarus is difficult and stable

The belarusian human rights situation is "difficult and stable," Valyantsin Stefanovich, deputy chairman of an organization called Vyasna (Spring), said in an interview given to BelaPAN on December 10 on the occasion of International Human Rights Day.

The authorities restrict the exercise of basic civil and political rights, such as freedom of assembly and association and the right to participate in governing the country through free, democratic and fair elections, Mr. Stefanovich said.

"Our biggest concern is that the government voluntarily made a number of human rights commitments within the framework of the United Nations and the OSCE and now openly ignores them," he said.

Aleh Hulak, chairman of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, echoed Mr. Stefanovich's remarks. He noted that the Belarusian government had recently refused to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Committee.

Unfortunately, the medical term "difficult and stable" is applicable to the situation in Belarus, Mr. Hulak said. "Nothing changes for the better," he explained. "Our authorities hold people in prison for political reasons and violate civil and political freedoms."

Nevertheless, human rights defenders will continue to do their work, Mr. Hulak stressed. On December 10, events will be held across Belarus to express solidarity with political prisoners and inform the Belarusian public about human rights abuses, he said. "People will write letters to prisoners of conscience, watch movies on human rights and so on," Mr. Hulak said. "In Vitsyebsk, as far as I know, there will be an open-air lecture about human rights."

The events in Minsk will include a human rights conference and the presentation of awards to the winners of the titles "Human Rights Defender of Year 2012," "Lawyer of Year 2012" and "Journalist of Year 2012" and to the authors of the best handmade souvenirs dedicated to International Human Rights Day.