A spate of human rights violations targeting opposition supporters and journalists in Belarus is nothing more than a clumsy attempt to suppress opposition voices ahead of elections on Sunday 23 September, Amnesty International said in its press release on September 20, 2012.
The organization has documented a surge in arrests of people for attending peaceful rallies (e.g. youth activists of Tell the Truth civil campaign)/ Amnesty International also mentions the detention of journalists keeping up a running commentary on picketing in the centre of Minsk on September 18.
Amnesty International calls on the Belarusian authorities to carry a thorough, impartial and effective investigation into the allegations of excessive use of force against journalists and to bring those responsible to justice.
“The use of administrative detention is yet another attempt to silence the opposition and any dissenting voices in Belarus,” said David Diaz-Jogeix, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme. “The ability to exercise the rights to freedom of expression and assembly is essential to the establishment of a climate in which people can participate in the electoral process without fear of intimidation or reprisals.”
Some opposition candidates opted to withdraw from the contest saying that there was not any positive change in the election environment in Belarus; representatives of the opposition were not included in the electoral committees which oversee the fairness of the electoral process, international human rights defenders stressed.
“Since the presidential elections on 2010, Amnesty International has observed an unprecedented deterioration in the human rights situation in Belarus. The authorities are engaged in a persistent campaign of harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders and opposition and civil society activists across the country. There are daily reports of activists being detained, arrested or charged, of lawyers being disbarred for defending detainees, of journalists being harassed and of media outlets and human rights organizations being intimidated and obstructed from going about their legitimate work,” the statement reads.