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posted May 2, 2006
Belarus Appeals

The following appeal was sent to the Centers for Pluralism Newtork following the news of the arrests of Belarus opposition leaders for participating in the annual Chornobyl Way March, the long-time CfP friend and collaborator, Vincuk Viacorka. IDEE encourages ongoing letter-writing and messages of support. We also publish the letter sent by the International League for Human Rights on behalf of the Belarusan opposition leaders.

Centers for Pluralism Appeal

Dear Centers for Pluralism Network,

We have received news that Vincuk Viacorka, chairman of the Belarus Popular Front and former chairman of the Supolnasc Civil Society Center, has been sentenced to 15 days in jail along with opposition leader and united presidential candidate Alexander Milinkievich and another member of the opposition coalition, Labor Party leader Alyaksandr Buchvostau. The three were arrested and sentenced for organizing an unauthorized march, namely the Chornobyl Way march held annually on April 26, the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, since 1989. The three were arrested  as the demonstrators attempted to march to October Square, the traditional end of the march. In addition, another opposition leader, Anatoly Lebedko, after disappearing, was found beaten the day before the march. (For more information see: RFE/RL article and further reporting.)

Our friends in Belarus are concerned that these actions signal the intention of the regime to heighten the level of repression against the opposition. Please express your concern by sending messages of support to the Center for Pluralism Supolnasc at <[email protected]> and also letters of protest to:

President Aleksandr Lukasheko
K. Marx Street, 38
Minsk, Belarus 220016
Fax: (+375-172-26-06-10)

We believe it is important also to involve others in expressing protest and concern. Please cc any messages to IDEE (to <[email protected]>).

While much of the world has turned its head to the next temporary point of concern, we know that the situation in Belarus warrants our increasing concern. Now is the time to show solidarity.

Thank you.

Eric Chenoweth
Co-Director, IDEE

International League for Human Rights

The following letter was sent by the International League for Human Rights.

May 1, 2006

President Aleksandr Lukashenko 
K. Marx Street, 38 
Minsk, Belarus 220016 
Fax: (+375-172-26-06-10)

President Lukashenko, 

The International League for Human Rights, an international non-governmental organization with special consultative status at the United Nations, expresses grave concern about the detention of opposition leaders Aleksandr Milinkevich, Vintsuk Vyachorka, Aleksandr Buchvostau, and Sergei Kalyakin, who were arrested in Minsk on April 27, 2006. Their arrest occurred one day after they all had participated in a march to protest the government's handling of Chernobyl, the world's worst nuclear accident. 

On April 27, 2006 Aleksandr Milinkevich was detained by riot police and transported to a police station. A few hours later, Milinkevich was sentenced to 15 days of imprisonment on charges of organizing an unsanctioned protest rally. That same day, Popular Front leader Vintsuk Vyachorka, Labour Party Chairman Aleksandr Buchvostau, and Sergei Kalyakin of the Communist Party, were also sentenced to two-week jail terms for taking part in the protest. 

Belarus has undertaken commitments to uphold international standards of freedom of expression and assembly as a signatory to agreements such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. These freedoms are fundamental to a democratic society. President Lukashenko, the League calls on you to ensure that all Belarusian citizens are allowed to express their views without fear of reprisals and prosecution.

The League demands the immediate and unconditional release of these opposition leaders, and the numerous political prisoners who are imprisoned throughout Belarus.

Thank you for your attention. 

Robert Arsenault 


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Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe (IDEE)
1718 M Street, NW, No. 147 · Washington, D.C. 20036
 Tel: (202) 466-7105 · E-mail: [email protected]
Eric Chenoweth and Irena Lasota, Directors