Joint Address of the Belarusian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum


January 6, 2011
Minsk, Belarus

We, the representatives of Belarusian civil society, united under the National platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum,

Consider savage crackdown of the peaceful protest action that took place on December 19, 2010 at the Independence Square in Minsk and further numerous arrests and repressions that  followed as roughest violation of human rights and democracy principles.
The actions of the authorities, in particular public statements made by certain officials, the concentration of special and military forces and vehicles in the city centre, unlawful detentions of civic activists that took place on December 18–19, searches and seizure of property, attacks on the candidate Mr. Uladzimir Niakliaeu and his supporters (the beating and hospitalization of Mr. Niakliaeu), created the atmosphere of fear and emergency situation in Minsk. 

Despite this, many thousands of people gathered at 8 P.M. of December 19 at the October Square for a peaceful action to express their opinion and to support presidential candidates. The authorities were aware of the scheduled meeting point for this action; all what they were obliged to do in this situation was to provide for citizens’ security.  Instead, the area of the Square was filled with extremely loud music and noise in order to prevent people from hearing the speakers. This forced participants of the protest to start moving to the Independence Avenue and heading in an orderly manner towards the Independence Square.

The meeting at the Independence Square was suppressed in the toughest manner. A decision to use force against people was unjustified neither from a moral nor from a legal perspective, which is securing law and order, respect to individual rights and personal liberties. Provocative acts committed by several citizens who broke window glass in the building of a state institution were stopped by the participants of the peaceful action themselves. Numerous evidence and video-materials confirm that there were no calls to storm the government building. Moreover, the participants insistently asked to stop instigators and not to confront the militia. 

During the crackdown of the peaceful protest over 200 people were beaten up, more than  700 were detained and placed into temporary detention facilities in Minsk and Zhodzina. Monitoring of court processes revealed outrageous violations of human rights, in particular the rights to fair trial, legal assistance and appeal. 

Further actions of the authorities (arrests of the presidential candidates and members of their staff, searches in their homes, threats received by their family members, attacks on offices of human rights organizations and media institutions, ungrounded checks of people at security service offices) could be described as politically motivated persecution of political opponents. A number of well-known political figures and civic activists still remain in the investigatory detention facility of the Belarusian security service (KGB) on suspicion of a criminal offence. Health conditions of Uladzimir Niakliaeu, Andrei Sannikau, Natallia Radzina, Anatol’ Liabedz’ka, Mikalai Statkevich are a cause of serious concern to us all. Worth noting are also the attempts of administrative pressure on the lawyers of detained political and civic activists.

State-controlled media continues to whip up hysteria. We receive messages that students who participated in the protest are threatened with expulsion from their educational institutions, whereas lecturers and other employees of state bodies with termination of their employment.

In connection with the abovementioned, we urge the governments of EU Member States, international institutions (the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the European Union to:
•    Make all possible diplomatic efforts to end the illegal and immoral actions of the Belarusian authorities against the participants of peaceful protests of December 19–20, 2010;
•    Suspend the participation of the Belarusian authorities in the Eastern Partnership Initiative as well as existing intergovernmental technical assistance programmes in the field of economy, energy, cross border cooperation, the negotiations on economic and trade preferences until the criminal prosecution and other illegal actions against presidential candidates and activists that remain detained in the KGB and other detention facilities all over Belarus as well as people preventively detained before the events of December 19–20, 2010 is discontinued;
•    Create an international commission for an objective and detailed investigation of the events of December19-20, 2010;
•    Address to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Education, Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Belarus the statement about:
a) the inadmissibility of expelling students from educational institutions of Belarus and the dismissal of people from their working places due to their participation in peaceful protests;
b) the impossibility of the continuation of cooperation with Belarus in any thematic field in case such repressive actions continue;
•    Strengthen regular contacts and dialogue of Belarusian civil society organizations with their European counterparts as well as to cancel consular fees for Belarusian citizens when applying for a Schengen visa in the embassies of EU member states in Belarus. 
We rely on well-considered and balanced reaction of all structures of the European Union and international organizations, which could give clear and unbiased assessment of the developments that took place in Belarus on December 19-20, 2010, however without leading towards repeated isolation of the country. The rapprochement process between Belarus and the EU is of utmost importance for the democratization of the country and coincides with the interests of the Belarusian society.

We hope that the reaction of the international community and institutions will lead to  restrictions in contacts and interaction with those responsible for the events, including the country’s highest officials, but will not be extended to the entire country, its citizens and civil society.   

Uladzislau Vialichka, Temporary Speaker of the EaP Civil Society Forum, National Coordinator of the Forum on Belarus, International Consortium “EuroBelarus”

Elena Tonkacheva, Foundation for Legal Technologies Development

Olga Smolianko, Legal Transformation Center

Galina Cherepok, Legal Transformation Center

Olga Stuzhinskaya, Office for a Democratic Belarus (Brussels)

Uladzimir Matskevich, Humanitarian Technologies Agency

Tatsiana Vadalazhskaya, Humanitarian Technologies Agency

Andrei Shutau, Humanitarian Techniques Agency

Siarhei Mackevich, Assembly of NGOs of Belarus

Zhana Litvina, Public Association “Belarusian Association of Journalists”

Tatiana Gatsura, International Helsinki human rights association

Ihar Lalkou, Belarusian Popular Front “Adradzhenne”

Dina Shavtsova, Civil Initiative “For Religious Freedom”

Svetlana Koroleva, Alternative Youth Platform

Vyachaslau Pazdnyak, Analytical Center “Wider Europe”

Dmitrij Karpievich, Public Union “Education Center “POST”

Aliaksandr Karalevich, Public Union “Education Center “POST”
Tamara Mackievic, National Public Association “Belarusian School Society”
Vitaut Rudnik, Public Association “Centre for Informational Support of Public Initiatives “The Third Sector”

Marina Malinina, International Public Association “Education Without Boundaries”
Uladzimir Rouda, PhD, Professor of European Humanities University (Vilnius), Informational and Analytical Center for NGOs

Tatiana Poshevalova, Public Association “Center for social innovations”

Leonid Kalitenya, Public Association “Center for social innovations”

Andrei Yahorau, Center for European Transformation

Oksana Shelest, Center for European Transformation

Siarhej Drazdouski, Public Association “National Association of Wheelchair Users”

Miraslau Kobasa, Enlightening Public Association “Leu Sapieha Foundation”

Irina Sukhy, Public Association “Ecohome”

Irina Kaparicha, Public Association “Ecohome”

Zmicer Chertkov, Public Association “Ecohome”

Igar Kutalouski, Public Association “Ecohome”

Ina Arekh, Public Association “Ecohome”
Tatiana Novikova, Public Association “Ecohome”
Tatsiana Stryzhankova, Public Association “Ecohome”

Yaroslav Bekish, Green Alliance of Belarus

Natalia Porechina, Green Alliance of Belarus
Ryma Ushkevich, Green Alliance of Belarus
Ivan Kouzel, Green Alliance of Belarus

Georgij Kozulko, Public project “Belovezhskaya Pushcha ХХI”
Pavel Nazdra, Public Association for Animal Protection “Zoozaschita”

Antonina Yelistratova, Youth association “Next Stop — New Life”
Elizabeth Efimova, Youth union group "Student' Council"

Alexander Adamiants, Center for European Studies, “New Europe” magazine

Irina Vidanova, Multimedia magazine ”34”

Aliaksandr Yarashuk, Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions
Iryna Zhykhar, National Public Association “Belarusian Organization of Working Women”

Ludmila Petina, Public Association “Women independent democratic movement”
Viktar Karneyenka, Movement for Freedom

Alaksandr Łahviniec, Movement for Freedom

Nadezhda Meleshkevich, Pubic Association “Belarusian committee ”Chernobyl children”

Anatolij Shvetsov, Public Association “Defense of rights of fathers and children”

Katerina Przybylska, Belarusian Schuman Society

Vitali Silitski, Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS)

Dzianis Melyantsou, Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS)

Barys Chernahlaz, Pastor, Religious Community Christians of Full Gospel “Church of Jesus Christ” (Minsk)

Olga Karatch, Centre of Civil Initiatives “Our House”

Siarhei Androsenka, LGBT Human Rights Project “GayBelarus”

Wojciech Przybylski, “Res Publica Nowa” Magazine (Poland), EaP Civil Society Forum 2010 (Berlin)