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International Day of Solidarity with the Civil Society of Belarus

4 August is the second anniversary of the arrest of Ales Belyatsky, a Belarusian political prisoner, human rights defender and head of the Human Rights Centre “Vesna”. In many countries this date marks the day of solidarity with the civil society of Belarus and the country’s human rights movement.

Let us remind our readers that Mr Belyatsky was sentenced to four and a half years in a high-security colony and property forfeiture for alleged tax evasion. The charges were based on information on Mr Belyatsky’s bank accounts passed on by, among others, the Polish prosecution service. The accounts were used to receive funds for the activities of “Vesna”.

According to representatives of the Belarusian opposition, the conditions in Mr Belyatsky’s prison are constantly deteriorating. His right to see his family and the right to receive food parcels and money transfers have been severely limited.

Celebration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Civil Society of Belarus in Warsaw included a solidarity demonstration, a marathon of letter-writing to political prisoners in Belarus and a debate on the situation of civil society and prisoners of conscience in Belarus.

During the debate, Dzmitry Bandarenka, coordinator of the European Belarus civil campaign, pointed to the lack of willingness amongst Western European countries to take firm action against the Belarusian regime. Another campaigner, Natalia Radzina, criticised the EU’s passive approach to political prisoners in Belarus and the lack of severe sanctions for violation of human rights.

“We hope that this year’s celebrations have helped pass on a broader picture of the problems of the Belarusian civil society, and that they have sent a message to the Belarusian authorities that the international public will not remain passive when confronted with the violation of human rights in Belarus”, said Olga Salomatova from HFHR, co-organiser of the Warsaw event. “Apart from the political message, we also wanted to show the country itself, its society and culture”, added Olga Salomatova.

The event in Warsaw was organised by: the Belarusian House in Warsaw, the Belarusian Information House, the European Belarus Association, the Stefan Batory Foundation, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Horizon, the Free Belarus Initiative, the Solidarity with Belarus Information Office, the “Together for Belarus” Campaign”, POLIS, office of MEP Marek Migalski.

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