Belarus: prominent members of civil society urge the EU to show strong support for the protests 

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MEPs in the Subcommittee on Human Rights express their strong solidarity with the people of Belarus and call for broader sanctions against regime officials involved in human rights abuses.

In a debate with civil society representatives and members of the new Belarusian opposition body “the Coordination Council” on Monday, Members of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and delegation for relations with Belarus reaffirmed their unwavering solidarity with all those taking to the streets in Belarus to protest against the outcome of the disputed presidential elections of 9 August. They also strictly condemned all the cases of police brutality and torture carried out by the regime against demonstrators, workers, students and journalists, both before the elections and after the popular uprising in the country began.

The EU must support Belarus

During the meeting, the invited civil society members of the Belarusian Coordination Council gave an overview of the latest developments in Belarus, in particular with regard to the human rights situation and how the authorities have been cracking down brutally on those calling for authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko’s resignation. On Sunday, around 200 000 people took to the streets once again in the capital Minsk and other Belarusian cities to protest against the regime, despite several hundreds of demonstrators and journalists covering the events having been arrested and tortured over the past few weeks.

Most of the experts stressed that the Belarusian people themselves must be at the forefront of the political and societal change in the country, but urged both Members and the European Union as a whole to continue to show and provide support to the opposition movement, in many different ways, as well as to introduce broader sanctions against officials involved in human rights abuses. They also called on the EU to continue to exert pressure on the Belarusian regime, as well as on its large neighbour Russia, to make sure that the Lukashenko government releases people arbitrarily detained, investigates all the allegations of torture and adhere to its international obligations.

Unprecedented situation

Most MEPs and the guests agreed that the current situation in Belarus is unprecedented, which will require the EU to show continuous strong backing, further support pro-democracy civil society actors and possibly also re-evaluate its official policy vis-à-vis the country. Many members further conveyed the necessity of extending the intended scope and amount of people to be targeted by the foreseen EU restrictive measures against Belarus, including sanctioning President Alexander Lukashenko himself.

You can watch the full meeting again here (07.09.2020).

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