Belarus Foreign Minister visits EU: calls for demonstration for human rights in Brussels

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is organising a demonstration to “welcome” Belarus Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey in Brussels on 22 July.

The demonstration is to be held at Rond-point Schuman on 22 July at 12:00 CET. Uladzimir Makey will be in Brussels after the EU lifted the travel ban against him in June, despite the absence of progress on the situation of human rights in Belarus and the fact that 12 political prisoners remain behind bars.

Belarus currently has 12 political prisoners:

1. Mikalai Autukhovich

2. Mikalai Statkevich

3. Pavel Seviarynets

4. Zmitser Dashkevich

5. Eduard Lobau

6. Ales Bialiatski

7. Mikalai Dziadok

8. Ihar Alinevich

9. Aliaksandr Frantskevich

10. Yauhen Vaskovich

11. Artsiom Prakapenka

12. Andrei Haidukou

The overall human rights situation in Belarus is consistently alarming. Not only has no real progress been observed, but there is a clear lack of political will for any sustainable change for respect of human rights or democratic ruling. The Belarusian regime openly and clearly refuses effective cooperation with the international bodies it belongs to.

Internally, the economic and social rights of the citizens are blatantly violated. Political activists, human rights defenders and journalists are constantly harassed. In 2013 more politically motivated sentences were handed down, new politically motivated harassments took place and 3 new death penalty verdicts were pronounced.

Trials against two political prisoners who were finally released are under preparation. Vasil Parfiankou and Uladzimir Yaromenak each face up to one year in prison accused of violating the terms of preventive supervision after their release. Once more, they risk becoming a currency of exchange in the international economic bargain, just as all the political prisoners in Belarus are now.

The EU must seize this key opportunity Mr Makey's visit presents to obtain the release of political prisoners, but not only. Belarus is in a systemic human rights crisis, and the EU must hold firm and push for systematic changes to be kept high on its agenda. Human rights and political prisoners are not bargaining chips to be traded off.