Belarussian Embassy picketed as protesters continue to demand freedom for political prisoners

Several people took part in a protest outside the Belarussian Embassy Friday 18th February to demand the release of the political prisoners held by the authorities in Belarus since December 2010.
Susan Coughtrie, Moldova Azi, 22 February 2011, 11:15

Amnesty International, in co-operation with Hyde Park, a Moldovan civic association, organized the protest to demonstrate their solidarity for prisoners of conscience currently being held by the Belarusian authorities. Commencing at 12:30, around ten participants gathered outside the Embassy on Matevichi Street, for approximately half an hour, holding signs, blowing whistles and chanting phrases, such as ‘Lukashenko, Dictator' and ‘Free Belarussia'.

On 19 December 2010, the Belarusian authorities arrested hundreds of people partaking in a peaceful demonstration in Minsk against the believed falsification of the recent presidential elections in Belarus. Amongst those detained were journalists and members of the opposition's political elite, including four presidential candidates.

"Tomorrow it will be exactly two months after the 19 December", stated Gheorghe Zugravu, Campaigns Coordinator for Amnesty International Moldova, "and up to 30-40 people are still in prison. We don't know exactly how many because there were no names released publically."

"Ideally, we would like them to free all the people and to call off all the charges. But now, one of our demands is at least to allow the arrested people to have access to lawyers, to decent medical services and to their family, because some have not seen theirs for several months" explained Zugravu.

Oleg Brega, political activist and journalist from Hyde Park - "We think that it is unacceptable in Europe to imprison people for their public speech or public opinions, so this is why we ask for their freedom."

"If you take the right of journalists to report, you are taking the right of everybody in the country to have access to free media and free expression," stated one of the protesters Christina Weis, an international activist from Germany. Explaining why she came out to demonstrate, she commented "A regime can only work using oppression as long as nobody looks at it, as soon as public attention focuses on it, they have to be more careful".

Amnesty International is also collecting signatures to send to the Belarus authorities to demand the freedom of all prisoners of conscious and remind them that Belarus, as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has an obligation to guarantee freedom of speech and assembly for all within its territory.

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