Authorities have liquidated the Belarusian Helsinki Committee. There is only one organization called “Legal Initiative” which is still officially engaged in the protection of human rights. Apparently, not for much longer. The decision to liquidate the BHC was made by the Supreme Court at the request of the Ministry of Justice. Later, the same happened with the Union of Belarusian Writers.
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee had allegedly paid two people to observe the election. This became a ground for liquidation officially announced in court. Copies of the documents were taken from another criminal case. They did not receive a proper legal assessment. The BHC called them fake.
“This is, of course, a confirmation of the lack of a fair, independent court and the ongoing campaign to eliminate the independent third sector and put pressure on human rights defenders,” BHC chairman Aleh Hulak said.
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee was established in 1995. The organization defended the rights of citizens, together with “Viasna,” the BHC organized election observation within the campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Fair Elections”. Thus, the “Legal Initiative” remains the only human rights association registered in Belarus. True, on October 5, the Supreme Court will consider the lawsuit and its liquidation.
“Of course, we will have to make some adjustments to our activities, but we will definitely continue our work because it all shows that the work is very necessary right now,” BHC chairman Aleh Hulak said.
One of the most stable creative organizations in Belarus – the Union of Belarusian Writers – has also been liquidated recently. The organization was founded in the 1930s with the participation of Yanka Kupala, Yakub Kolas, Maksim Tank, and other Belarusian writers. Today, the Union has more than 450 members.
“We hoped to the last that the court would be fair and lawful because we presented all the arguments that we did not violate any laws, but unfortunately the court did not listen to our explanations and to our arguments,” said the chairman of the Union of Belarusian writers Barys Pyatrovich immediately after the verdict.
The other day, Alyaksandr Lukashenka expressed his opinion about public organizations in Belarus. “It is time to pass a law stipulating that our civil society is not NGOs and other crap. We do have public organizations. We need to openly describe them. We have trade unions, BRYU, that we have veterans, women’s organizations. Those who have shown what a real civil society is”.
The mass liquidation of non-governmental organizations began in June. It affected not only political parties and human rights centers but also cultural and historical communities. The Ministry of Justice initiated the transfer of summons to court. No public association has yet won the case or challenged the court’s decision.
Iryna Karniyenka, Belsat