Memorandum of the Association of Belarusians in Great Britain on Elections
the Association of Belarusians in Great Britain adopted a memorandum in the aftermath of the 2010 presidential elections in Belarus
by the Association of Belarusians in Great Britain
1. The Association of Belarusians in Great Britain notes the statement by Minister for Europe David Lidington MP of 20 December 2010 condemning “all violence surrounding” the 19th December Presidential Election in Belarus, and supports HM Government’s call “on the Government of Belarus to apply the rule of law impartially and effectively, to inform the public of the location of those detained and to refrain from further acts of intimidation and violence”.
The 19th December presidential vote in Belarus came in the wake of the brutal arm-twisting and gagging of society by the regime of President Alexander Lukashenka, as well as reports of widespread and systematic vote-rigging in preparation for the declaration of a falsified result. It was dominated by an illegitimate candidate – the incumbent President, who has ruled the country for over 16 years like a dictator. His second legitimate term in office expired in 2006 and this would be his forth.
3. It has since emerged that:
* No free and fair presidential elections took place in Belarus on the 19th December 2010 at all, according to the OSCE and other international monitors’ assessment;
* There has been no credible confirmation of the officially declared results, in terms of either figures, or whether or not Mr Alexander Lukashenka was actually elected in the first round, while there has been mounting evidence to the contrary;
* It has also become all too clear that the appalling brutality unleashed by Lukashenka’s internal security forces that night was Lukashenka’s act of suppression of a peaceful mass protest movement demanding fair and free elections, while further evidence has emerged that the brutal violence by the government’s forces came under a pretext created by a provocation carried out by the government’s own agents. In fact a leading presidential candidate was attacked, severely beaten up and left semi-conscious, by the incumbent president’s security forces even before any street protests unfolded;
* Since that night, the pro-democratic society in Belarus, in the capital and elsewhere, has been subjected to a reign of terror, with searches and new arrests, KGB interrogations, moves to take opposition activists’ children into government custody, etc. All this has become the routine of daily life;
* At least 700 have suffered short-term imprisonment so far, a number have suffered serious physical injuries from the security forces. New arrests have been made virtually daily, many of those arrested have been kept in conditions that appear to constitute forms of physical and psychological torture;
* The majority of presidential candidates, as well as a significant number of politicians, civic activists, campaigners and journalists, now face charges leading to long prison sentences;
* The people of Belarus have been officially threatened with eventual reprisals against every individual who was among the several dozens of thousands demonstrating that night.
4. In view of the 19th December 2010 and subsequent events, the Association believes that urgent considerations of fundamental justice and humanity, as well as those of preventing a potential international problem from developing at the heart of Central-Eastern Europe, would demand that the position expressed by the Minister for Europe should be strengthened, made more specific and followed up with political measures. Such measures should be taken, nationally as well as in a coalition with the EU, the US and Canada, and other countries in the region, firstly in order effectively to discourage the regime of Lukashenka from continuing the repressions and to secure the political prisoners’ release, as the immediate objective.
5. Secondly, pressure needs to be sustained. The UK and the West ought not to seek rapprochement with the ruling undemocratic regime in Belarus over the heads of those in the country who seek to establish a truly democratic society and at the expense of the country’s democratic future. Measures of effective economic discouragement of interests linked to the overall stability and resources of the regime ruling in Belarus, as well as those of its leaders and functionaries, need to be introduced.
6. Thirdly, effective measures will need to be applied and managed in order to achieve the restoration of democracy in Belarus, so as to prevent new political repressions and other human rights violations, which have only intensified in Belarus over the past 16 years of autocratic rule. A lasting stabilisation solution can be achieved only through a return to a constitutionally legitimate and democratic rule in that country. As has been recognised by the pro-democratic community there, given the nature and structure of the regime currently entrenched in Belarus, the only remaining way for that by the peaceful means of election is holding new free elections without Lukashenka:
* Such elections must be run by a fully independent commission, appropriately accredited and recognised as such;
* Such elections need to be made democratic and transparent by securing a comprehensive range of democratic legal amendments and practical assurances of a free and fair campaign and vote (including transparent ballot boxes, adequate access by observers at all stages, etc.).
* The country’s monopolistic state electronic media must be stripped of its role as the incumbent regime’s propaganda mouthpiece. Freedom of speech needs to be restored in Belarus;
* An audit and investigation, by an independent commission including international representatives, must be conducted into the vote-rigging in Belarus committed at all levels, holding to account all those engaged in elections rigging and in political repression in Belarus, during and after this election campaign as well as since 1996. Furthermore, the role of all such individuals in the political life of Belarus during the transition period will need to be constrained.
7. In the meantime, Lukashenka should not be recognised as a fully legitimate and lawful Head of State of Belarus, in particular after his term of office based on the 2006 election expires. Measures need to be taken by the democratic international community to assert that no international treaties Lukashenka might sign on behalf of Belarus in that capacity would have automatic international legal validity.
8. In addition, the Association supports the arguments and measures outlined in the Statements by the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in Exile of the 20th December and 28th December 2001, as well as the “Appeal by Belarusian Democratic Communities to International Organizations, Societies and Elected Political Leaders of the Free World”.
03 January 2011
Financial Times: Dictator Non Grata
It is encouraging to see a consensus in recent statements by observers and policymakers on Belarus. Nearly all independent commentators agree that sanctions need to be imposed against the regime of Lukashenka. Yesterday’s editorial of FT about Belarus adds to the choir:
The regime’s outrageous actions demand a firm response, above all from the European Union and the US, which have dangled carrots under Mr Lukashenko’s nose for more than two years in an effort to encourage warmer relations and political liberalisation in Belarus. This effort has brought minimal results and should now be frozen. …
These steps need not mean the isolation of Belarus, which would merely push it deeper into Russia’s orbit. Travel sanctions on regime officials can be combined with easier, less costly visas for ordinary Belarussians wanting to visit the EU. But as long as Mr Lukashenko oppresses his people, normal relations are out of the question.
Easing of visa requirements for Belarusians is an important measure. The perfect solution in this area would be an entire lift of EU visas for Belarusian citizens.
The Schengen states have recently lifted visas for citizens of Bosnia and Albania. By any means, Belarusians are very unlikely to present a bigger threat in terms of illegal immigration or crime export than citizens of these countries.
On the other hand, the entry ban for people responsible for repressions and vote rigging should not limit itself to the senior nomenklatura – the talk should be of hundreds or even thousands of local executioners.
The ultimate aim should be to prevent people from collaboration with the regime, by letting the bureaucrats know its price.
Read the Financial article in full here