CBS statement on brutal dispersion of protest rally in Belarus

The Center for Belarusian Studies expresses its deep apprehension and dismay at the brutal, unwarranted, and illegal ill-treatment of Belarusian protesters during the March 25, 2017 peaceful Independence Day demonstrations in Belarus. As an organization that exists to encourage the development of a healthy civil society in Belarus, we are gratified by the courage and conviction of Belarusians but all too aware of the risks they take in light of the increasingly belligerent actions of the Lukashenko regime against civilian, peaceful protesters, in particular the totally unjustified brutality of his militia. We are also aware that the EU, the UN, the OSCE, and other organizations maintain a stance of observation but have yet to be proactive in addressing these human rights violations in Belarus, which now apparently have led the regime to believe it can act both with impunity and with ever-increasing violence in the face of silence from the international community. With reports of beatings and violence against demonstrators, as well as the imprisonment of activists, artists, authors, and publishers, the deteriorating conditions in the country beg for the support of European and other nations, not on the basis of political alliance, but on the basis of protecting basic human rights.

We urge that the UNHRC respond quickly and publicly to these abuses, to the manipulation of judicial process (false accusations), and to the use of violence and torture about which reports are being disseminated through social media and Belarus satellite media sources. These citizens who are advocating for a democratic future for their nation must not be left to stand alone.

Dr. M. Paula Survilla
Executive Director
Center for Belarusian Studies

Ambassador David Swartz
Associate Executive Director
Center for Belarusian Studies

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