Today the people of Belarus mark Freedom Day, a day to commemorate Belarus’ declaration of independence in 1918. We mark it is as International Day of Solidarity with Belarus. This year it takes on a particular significance in the context of Lukashenko illegitimate regime’s increasing domestic repressions, and continued actions to undermine Belarus independence and sovereignty by subduing it to Russia and collaborating with its illegal aggression against Ukraine.
Since the manipulated presidential elections in August 2020, the human rights situation in Belarus has continued to drastically deteriorate. Tens of thousands of Belarusians have been arrested for protesting peacefully or just for expressing their opinion. Almost 1500 of them are now political prisoners. Hundreds of civil society organisations have been suppressed. The already very limited space for democratic activities has been further diminished by legislation that violates human rights standards and authorises abuses and violations of human rights. The UN has documented multiple cases of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The 22 March report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reports on continued systemic, widespread and gross human rights violations in Belarus, some of which may further amount to crimes against humanity.
There is a de-facto prohibition of opposition parties and political activism, massive censorship and strict ideological control in all spheres of public life. The impunity for the long list of human rights violations is absolute, with the justice system being instrumentalised against opposition figures, bloggers, journalists, human rights defenders, trade union activists and lawyers. The regime disregards not only the wishes of the vast majority of the population, but also Belarus’ own international obligations and is cementing its international isolation.
Despite this long list of brutal repression by the Lukashenko regime, the Belarusian people continue to demonstrate an exceptional courage in fighting for freedom and their fundamental rights.
The Belarusian people are a source of inspiration for all of us, and have the full support of the European Union. We will continue to stand in solidarity and to support the Belarusian people who strive for a free, democratic and independent Belarus.
- Publication date
- 25 March 2023
- Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations