Washington calls the Belarusian authorities to release and rehabilitate Belarusian political prisoners immediately, a statement by representative of the US Department of State Marie Harf on the anniversary of the crackdown on protests against the rigged 2010 presidential elections says.
‘Three years after the Belarusian Government launched its brutal crackdown on civil society, the democratic opposition, and independent media, we remember the political prisoners who remain in detention and reiterate our call for their immediate and unconditional release and the restoration of their political rights. We note the December 1, 2010 joint statement between our two countries, which affirmed that enhanced respect for democracy and human rights remains central to improving bilateral relations, and is essential to the progress of Belarus and its citizens.
As we mark the third anniversary of the events of December 19, 2010, we stand with the people of Belarus and reaffirm our readiness to help them build a democratic, prosperous, and truly independent European state,’ the document states.
According to the official figures, 90.65 % of voters took place in the elections. As the Central Election Commission reported, Aliaksandr Lukashenka won 79.65 % of votes whereas the rest of candidates did not even reach 3 %: Ryhor Kastusiou – 1.97 %, Ales Mikhalevich – 1.02 %, Uladzimir Niakliayeu – 1.78 %, Yaraslau Ramanchuk – 1.98 %, Vital Rymasheuski – 1.09 %, Andrey Sannikau – 2.43 %, Mikalai Statkevich – 1.05 %, Viktar Tsiareshchanka – 1.19 %, Dzmitry Vus – 0.39 %.
On the evening of December 19, 2010 thousands of electors doubting the official returns came to the centre of the city answering the call of the opposition candidates. Police let the protesters march from October Square to Independence Square (‘Ploshcha’) and start a rally there. People were standing in the cold, carrying their traditional white-red-white flags banned by Lukashenka. They came, women and men, young and old, knowing what they were risking.
In an hour a group of people tried to enter a government building and broke some glass, in what certainly looks, in all of the video available, like a provocation. Police appeared, as if on signal, and cleared the square. Hundreds of participants were severely beaten, including young girls and senior citizens. According to the official report 639 people were arrested. Later president Aliaksandr Lukashenka and then-Minister of Interior Anatol Kuliashou declared that it was them who were running the demonstration’s dispersal.
More than forty persons were targeted in the investigation of mass riot in Minsk, six ex-presidential candidates being accused. Five of them – Uladzimir Niakliayeu, Mikalai Statkevich, Andrey Sannikau, Dzmitry Vus, Vital Rymasheuski – had to face the trial. They were found guilty of participation and organization of mass riots and sentenced to up to six years of imprisonment or restriction of liberty. Mikalai Statkevich is still behind bars.