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EPDE members show solidarity with colleagues in Belarus

(August 14, 2020)


Image source: Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters


Since the presidential election on August 9, protests broke out across Belarus which have been dispersed violently. Over 6 000 citizens have been arrested, including journalists and activists. EPDE members Belarusian Helsinki Committee and Human Rights Center “Viasna” also report that 150 observers have been arrested, including from their joint election monitoring campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”.

Several EPDE member organizations have issued statements of support for detained colleagues and citizens in Belarus, which can be found below by clicking on each heading:

Solidarity to Belarus from Armenian Civil Society – click here to read the full statement

We, the undersigned civil society members of Armenia strongly believe that Belarusian citizens should be free to exercise their rights:

– to change their government through free and democratic elections based on OSCE standards

– to protest freely and peacefully against violations of their electoral and human rights and for their protection

– to not be subjected to violence, arbitrary arrest, or detention

– to have full access to information and media

We condemn the pre-election persecutions of political opponents and their supporters; violations during early voting and election day as reported by citizen observers, including arbitrary detention of observers and obstruction of their work; falsification of results; the post-election arrests, as well as disproportionate and unjustified use of force by the police that cost at least one life and left several people injured. 

Armenia’s democracy and development were brutally suspended with several rigged elections. A similar violation of the people’s vote in 2008 and violent suppression of public discontent resulted in massive state capture, escalated impunity, corruption, and systemic abuse of human rights. Only through a revolution in 2018, were the Armenian people able to restore justice, yet even until today, two years after we are struggling with the remnants of that violence and corruption․

Hence, in full solidarity with the Belarusian people, we commend their strong will, resilience, and readiness to stand up for their legitimate right to elect their own government, to restore their dignity, rights, and justice.

We call upon the acting President of Belarus 

– to ensure an independent recount of votes and audit of the electoral process 

– to stop persecution of political opposition and peaceful protesters immediately

– to release all political prisoners 

12 August 2020


Helsinki Citizens Assembly-Vanadzor

Open Society Foundations-Armenia
Asparez Club of Journalists
Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center

Public Journalism Club

Peace Dialogue NGO

Analytical Centre for Globalization and Regional Cooperation
Union of Informed Citizens
Non-discrimination and Equality Coalition

Protection of Rights without Borders NGO

Law Development and Protection Foundation

Centre for Community Mobilization and Support NGO

Veles Human Rights NGO

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Moldovan National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum – click here to read the full statement

The Moldovan National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum express its solidarity with the Belarusian National Platform regarding the Presidential elections of 9 August 2020 and political situation in Belarus. We are also sharing the concerns expressed by the European Union, U.S. Department of State, OSCE/ODIHR, Venice Commission and some countriesWe are deeply concerned on the multiple incidents of excessive use of force and violence of the law-enforcement bodies against Belarusians protesters, including on women and minors and condemn the reprisals and arbitrary detention of political opposition and peaceful protesters. We urge the Belarusian government to stop all acts of violence and the persecution of protesters, to respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and of the press and to release all unfairly detained and all political prisoners. We also would like to remind the Belarusian authorities its international obligations under the main human rights treaties such as UN Convention Against Torture, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

According to the Belarusian National Platform, Presidential Elections in Belarus on 9 August 2020 have been accompanied by massive violations of human rights and can by no means be regarded as free, transparent and democratic. During the whole electoral process, the state government has been deliberately hindering the free expression of will by citizens which included prosecution against alternative candidates and their team members; (cyber)bullying and repressions towards bloggers, journalists, activists and ordinary citizens; massive manipulations and fraud during the voting process. According to the Belarusian NGOs, the electoral process at all of its stages did not comply with a number of basic international standards for democratic and fair elections and was accompanied by numerous violations of these principles and requirements of national legislation.

The Central Election Commission of Belarus claims that more than 80% of voices were given for Aleksandr LUKASHENKO which has provoked fair outrage from citizens. On the evening of 9 August 2020 thousands of people went out on the streets of their cities. The Belarusian authorities deployed disproportionate and unacceptable violence against peaceful protesters. This inadequate and violent reaction of the security and police agencies is therefore the cause for the escalation of the violence. According to the Belarusian National Platform, about thousands of arrested, dozens of injured and few death cases among protesters have been registered.

We strongly condemn the statement made by the President of the Republic of Moldova, on behalf of the Moldovan people. On 10 August 2020, Mr. Igor DODON, congratulated Mr. Aleksandr LUKASHENKO of being elected as President of Belarus. The Moldovan President rushed to express his congratulations ignoring severe concerns about compliance with electoral standards and repressions of the peaceful protests. We consider this statement represents neither the majority of the Moldovans nor of the signatories of this statement. The people of the Republic of Moldova, in solidarity with the Belarusians, respect the highest standards and fairness of the electoral process and the right to peaceful protest.

According to the Independent Journalism Center from Moldova, the media affiliated to the president’s Dodon Socialist Party, did not reflect accurately the violence and police disproportionate interventions against protesters in Belarus.

The Moldovan National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum expresses its solidarity with the Belarusian National Platform and Belarusian people and in accordance with the principles of democracy, rule of law and peaceful assembly urging the authorities of Belarus to:

immediately stop the escalation of violence on the streets;

immediately stop the excessive use of force and violence against protesters;

release immediately and unconditionally all arrested protesters and all political prisoners; acknowledge the Presidential elections not eligible due to massive law violations;

start negotiations with the teams of alternative candidates, opposition parties and civil society organisations about new Presidential elections being controlled by Belarusian society and international organisations;

ensure fundamental legal safeguards for those apprehended and arrested, including access to medical care and lawyer from the very outset of the deprivation of liberty;

to create an independent public commission based on the international good practices to continue investigations into the events followed after the presidential elections to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into all committed incidents and bring all those responsible to justice and provide redress and rehabilitation to the victims.

Declaration of Support of the Representatives of the Swedish Civil Society – click here to read the full statement

Ahead of the extraordinary EU foreign ministers meeting over Belarus

Declaration of Support of the Representatives of the Swedish Civil Society to the Joint Statement of Nordic-Baltic Foreign Ministers on recent developments in Belarus

We, representatives of the Swedish civil society, including the Belarusian diaspora, human rights organisations, and many others are in constant contact with our partners, colleagues and friends in Belarus. We share the EU’s and the Nordic-Baltic foreign ministers’ condemnation of how the Presidential elections have been conducted and their proclamation as non-compliant to the globally recognized standards of democracy and rule of law.

We share the call to the Belarusian authorities to stop persecution of political opponents, to release all those unfairly detained immediately, to respect human rights and freedoms, and to immediately engage in a genuine political dialogue with the opposition in order to avoid further use of violence.

Further, we bring your attention in particular to the jailed husband of Svetlana Tikhanovkaya, Sergei who is held as a hostage by the Belarusian state. No genuine political dialogue is possible while the political prisoners and people who tried to protect their votes from falsification are not free and fully rehabilitated.

We also urge to reinforce the sanctions and to include in the sanction list the broad circle of those responsible for the falsification of the election results such as heads of the electoral commissions, as well as those responsible for the violence that was used against peaceful marchers. The individual cases and names of the responsible are documented by the Belarusian civil society activists and human rights organisations. There are extensive photo, video materials and testimonies.

We urge the EU to apply lessons learned from how the sanctions were used in previous periods and therefore connect their validity strictly to structural changes in the electoral procedures and specifically to the holding of new, free, fair and compliant with the globally recognised international standards elections. A future lifting of sanctions should also be conditioned by systemic changes in the area of ​​civil and political rights, especially at the legislative level, guaranteeing a qualitative improvement of the human rights situation in Belarus, including in regard to freedom of speech, assembly and association, as well as the real possibility for political parties to operate freely.

This is what the Belarusian voters – the closest neighbours to the EU – are needing now when they are being deprived of the fair counting of their votes.


Sveriges Belarusier

Civil Network OPORA (Ukraine) Expresses Its Solidarity with the People of Belarus – click here to read the full statement

OPORA hereby expresses its support to Belarus people in their pursuit for free and fair elections. Systemic violation of international standards and best practices in the organization of elections in the Republic of Belarus led to the delegitimization of the voting results and the campaign winner announced by the Central Election Commission. Choosing a country’s government is a sovereign right of its people, rather than of candidates or officials. Whenever citizens sense the fraud about the announced data, or have evidence on their hands for inconsistent and disproportional results with the electoral attitudes, a peaceful protest is the only solution voters can resort to. Degradation of election system, lack of pluralism and competitive environment do not leave any other choice to citizens but to walk out with protests, since their voices lost power through manipulations and open antagonism to political rights and freedoms.

OPORA hereby expresses its support and respect for actions of non-partisan observers who had to take risks to keep their independence, and to provide an unbiased assessment under any conditions, and to inform the society on the course and quality of election process. In the settings when the campaign failed to be completed within formal terms and procedures, but has grown into the stage of street protests, the role of independent observers and the media is increasing. That is why their civic duty is to continue their work in line with the relevant standards. We hereby believe it unacceptable to have the imposed restrictions for observers, and systemic counteraction to non-partisan observation, which has been evidenced by the ZUBR initiative: 1,988 facts of denial of access to accredited observers at polling stations, 942 cases of restricting observers’ rights, 209 facts of recalling the accreditation, or expelling from the voting premises. In the situation of further regulation of the post-election conflict, independent observation over elections remains to be a key tool to support and improve democratic processes. 

We hereby applaud to women of Belarus, among others, who walk out to peaceful protests, against all odds, intimidation, or obstruction. It is hard to overestimate their contribution to the cause of resisting the demonstratory violence and holding back the repressions against citizens.    

The unjustified and disproportional aggression coming from authorities and the militia aggravates the political conflict, whereas the only method to resolve it at this point may be in inclusive negotiations between the parties. 

To start a genuine internal social dialogue in Belarus, it is important to do the following:

  • to stop violence from law-enforcement bodies against peaceful protesters;
  • to carry out an objective investigation of all cases of applying force against citizens, and to bring the perpetrators to justice;
  • to release political prisoners, and to create conditions for a free political process;

The government shall stop the escalation of the conflict, and bear in mind that any leader will lose to his own people who have been mobilized against injustice.

OPORA believes in the capacity of civil society, and hopes for democratic development of the Republic of Belarus.

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