On 23 December, the ECPM and its youth association the ECPYN sent an open letter to the Belarusian ambassadors. Based on the latest developments, both organisations are very worried about the unexpected detentions of political activists that occurred this week. One year after the peaceful demonstrations, followed by extremely harsh measures by the Belarusian authorities, it looks like similar tactics are being used again by the Belarusian government to silence members of the opposition. The open letter is listed below
Following opposition protests after the presidential election on 19 December 2010, your authorities detained fourteen political activists fighting for free and fair elections in your country. These activists are now serving prison or labour camp sentences in inhuman conditions. Our party strongly condemns this, and finds that your government’s measures violate international human rights and the right to exercise freedom of religion and conscience.
Further to this, we have recently been astonished to hear that co-chairman of the Belarusian Christian Democrats and former presidential candidate Vital Rymasheuski was detained in the early afternoon of 19 December 2011, while leaving his house. He is a genuine Christian Democrat, and it is unacceptable for him to be deprived of the right to religion and conscience and to be prevented from freely holding a political opinion in his own country.
The European Christian Political Movement (ECPM) and its youth section the European Christian Political Youth Network (ECPYN) strongly believe that your Excellency’s direction of a representation in a free European country enables you to see a clear distinction between the democratic country you are currently based in and the deficit of democracy in your own country. The ECPM is a European political party recognized by the European Parliament.
We hereby call upon your Excellency to urge for the immediate release and rehabilitation of Pavel Sieviaryniets and thirteen other political prisoners, who are suffering under the oppression of the current regime. Furthermore, in co-operation with the Belarusian Christian Democratic Party, we strongly urge the Belarusian government to make changes to electoral law, providing equal rights to state and non-state mass media in preparation for free and democratic elections next year.
The ECPM explicitly requests that the authorities ensure the unhindered official registration of democratic parties and organisations, such as the recently-constituted Belarusian Christian Democratic Party.
With the approach of Christmas and the new year we would also remind you that Christmas is a time of unconditional love which the Belarusian government will be betraying if it continues to systematically suppress fundamental human rights.
We request that you convey our concerns to the relevant departments in your government, to seek the earliest possible resolution.
In closing, we wish you and the people of Belarus a Blessed Christmas and a New Year of hope and renewal.
Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration.
The Boards of ECPM & ECPYN
23 December 2011