In a resolution voted on Thursday, the European Parliament condemns the crackdown on peaceful protestors and arrests of human rights defenders and journalists in Belarus.
“Parliament condemns the crackdown on peaceful protesters in mass demonstrations by thousands of citizens across Belarus, in particular on Freedom Day (25 March), when security forces violently attacked and beat protesters and arrested hundreds of people, including domestic and foreign journalists reporting on the events. The protests were directed against the adoption of a Presidential Decree introducing a so-called ‘social-parasite tax’, designed to penalise unemployment with fees and forced labour,” the official website of the European Parliament says.
MEPs expressed concern over the latest developments and a ‘new wave of repression’ in Belarus, which includes raids on civil society organisations and ‘preventive’ arrests of opposition members before protests. They saw a ‘clear need for a broader democratisation process in the country’ and called on the Belarusian authorities to release everyone detained in the course of the protests, to stop the harassment of independent media and civil society and to allow public organisations to function fully.
Minsk riot police arresting protesters on Freedom Day (ENG subs)
Parliament further recalled that the EU had lifted most of the restrictive measures against Belarusian officials in February 2016 ‘as a gesture of goodwill to encourage Belarus to improve its human rights, democracy and rule of law record’, and warned that in the event of failure to carry out thorough and impartial investigations into all allegations in connection with the recent demonstrations, the EU may impose new restrictive measures.
belsat.eu, via europarl.europa.eu