Amnesty International has informed the Belarusian authorities that the organization has collected about 191,000 signatures from supporters calling for an end to the crackdown on peaceful protests and accountability for police abuses. The petition was launched ahead of Belarus’s 9 August presidential election amid mounting violations against protesters. As the crackdown against peaceful protesters has intensified, it has been signed by hundreds of thousands of people from 184 countries.
“When we started this campaign back in July, we could not have foreseen just how widespread and brutal the assault on peaceful protesters would be. The Belarusian authorities have descended to new lows in their pursuit of critics and political opponents, arresting thousands of people and carrying out a campaign of intimidation, torture and other ill-treatment that is ongoing. Only a couple of weeks ago, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs condoned the use of lethal weapons against protesters,” said Aisha Jung, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner on Belarus.
“The nearly two hundred thousand signatures that we have collected send a clear message to the Belarusian authorities: stop the violence; the world is watching, and people care. We will continue to demand accountability for the killings of peaceful protesters by the Belarusian security forces, the indiscriminate detention of peaceful protesters, the torture of detainees, and the arrests of opposition leaders.
“This systematic campaign of intimidation and terror being waged against peaceful protesters in Belarus must cease immediately. All human rights violations committed by the Belarusian authorities against protesters must be investigated, and all those suspected of such violations should be brought to justice in accordance with international standards for fair trials. Furthermore, it is imperative that all officers are clearly identifiable and the lawless practice of using gangs of men in plain clothes in unmarked vehicles to detain people must also stop immediately.”
The petition was launched on 27 July during the final stages of the electoral campaign. By that time, already hundreds had been detained by law enforcement officers. Leading opposition figures and aspiring presidential candidates Viktar Babaryka and Syarhei Tsihanouski were arrested on bogus criminal charges. Further politically motivated arrests of opposition figures followed.
In the days following the elections, hundreds of thousands of Belarusians took to the streets to contest their results. They were met with brutal and indiscriminate force. At least six protestors died, thousands were detained, and hundreds subjected to torture.
The Belarusian people continue to protest around the country, hundreds of them are detained weekly. Throughout this time, social and independent media channels have captured shocking footage of the continuing violence against them which corroborates many protesters’ claims.
For more information please contact:
Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada (English branch), 613-853-2142, email@example.com