Civil society is being wiped out in the heart of Europe, the human rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Wednesday amid the unprecedented wave of searches and detentions targeting more than a dozen civil society organisations in Belarus.
“Over the past 12 months, human rights have been under relentless attack from the government of Alyaksandr Lukashenka. We have long been calling on the international community to respond to allegations of torture, police violence against peaceful protesters, and the pervasive repression which has crushed every possible group of Belarusian society. Today’s massive attack on vital civil society organisations shows that nowhere near enough has been done to end this crisis. The Belarusian KGB boasted last week that it was conducting a country-wide operation ‘to cleanse radicals’, and today we have seen what this looks like on the ground,” Wednesday’s statement reads.
Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, has reiterated the organisation’s message to the international community: “It’s time to act – to protect freedom and justice!”
On July 14, the security forces made numerous raids on the offices and flats of NGOs and human rights defenders; at least 12 persons have been detained, human rights centre Viasna reports.
Last week, the State Security Committee (KGB) reported the conduct of ‘an operation to clean up radicals’. The statement was voiced by Kanstantsin Bychak, the deputy head of the KGB investigation department, on the air of the state-run TV channel Belarus 1. It is unknown whether that was the operation announced by Alyaksandr Lukashenka on July 2 and whether it was connected with the attack on the free press and activists.