Belarus: Authorities must guarantee the rights of peaceful protesters ahead of presidential election

Amnesty International today delivered a petition to the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs, urging the authorities to stop using force against peaceful protesters. Over just 10 days, 12,000 supporters from 120 countries signed the petition demanding an end to the ruthless crackdown on protests, which has seen police beat protesters and detain hundreds of peaceful activists, journalists and bystanders.

“Those of us who monitor events in Belarus remember well the lessons of 2010, when hundreds of peaceful demonstrators were brutally dispersed on the night after the presidential election, and several presidential candidates were arbitrarily thrown behind bars. The use of force against peaceful protesters is absolutely unacceptable,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International's Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“In recent days, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has voiced clear threats to use the police force, and even the military, to disperse possible protests. The authorities in Belarus should know that we and the whole world are closely watching what is happening in the country. We will not remain silent and will not stand aside if the authorities resort to violence against peaceful protesters. Sooner or later, those responsible will be held accountable.”

Background

Hundreds of peaceful activists, journalists and bystanders who have been arbitrarily detained by law enforcement officials on trumped-up charges since the start of electoral campaign should be released immediately and given full reparation for the human rights violations they have suffered. All prisoners of conscience, including political activists Viktar Babaryka and Syarhei Tsihanouski, who were prevented from running for the presidency and arrested on politically-motivated charges, must be released immediately and unconditionally.