News

Stop police violence in Belarus! Statement by the UHHRU and KHRG

12 August 2020

Docudays UA joins the statement by Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group regarding the situation in Belarus. We encourage everyone to spread the inforamtion and sign the statement

 

On 9 August 2020, there was a presidential election in Belarus, which was held in the situation of special restrictions due to COVID-19 and restrictions imposed on any expression of disagreement with the current president’s position which have nearly become a ritual in Belarus. The restrictions due to attempts to overcome the COVID-19 threats were aimed at protecting human lives and health. All the other restrictions can only be justified when their purpose is to ensure a healthy and viable society.

 

The previous presidential elections in Belarus in 2001, 2006, 2010 and 2015 were not recognized as democratic because they did not meet the standards of integrity, fairness, openness, equality of chances for the candidates. The course of the latest election campaign of 2020 has not been an exception: there can be no doubt that there was no equal access to the media, to campaigning, contacts with voters, and that there was pressure on alternative candidates and manipulations. All of this existed, still exists and is present. And all of this has become a reason why the announced official result of electing a candidate that ran practically without any alternatives as president are not accepted.

 

In view of this, the UHRRU states that elections are an instrument of democracy which legitimizes the expression of popular will and, at the same time, secures the legal powers of those elected as a result of such an expression of popular will. However, elections have practically no meaning when they are held with guns pointed at the voters by occupants, as it was in the case of Crimea in 2014 or in North Korea in 2019.

 

If we call the process that took place in Belarus on 9 August 2020 elections, we should evaluate it by the standards set for elections. These are, first of all, the freedom of expression, as well as the related freedoms of expressing one’s views, and upholding the right to peaceful gatherings. Unfortunately, since the evening of 9 August, the official government of Belarus has used disproportionate force and special equipment to stop and de facto suppress and expression of popular will related to the results of the voting process. This resulted in severe injuries caused to the protesters; mass arrests of thousands of people in the two days since the election ended; starting dozens of politically motivated criminal cases; detention of political prisoners. We demand to immediately stop the mass police violence and return to the constitutional upholding of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus.

We call to comply with the principle of the rule of law, human rights and pluralist democracy, which are the foundation on which contemporary free and democratic Europe has been built; the once-free and democratic Belarus should move towards this Europe and join it.

 

Photo: Uladz Hrydzin

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