March 18, 2013
By Pauline GESSANT, President of JEF-Europe
On 18 March 2013, on the occasion of the 7th unfortunate anniversary of Lukashenka’s condemned election victory, we, representatives of European youth, denounce the persisting human rights violation in Belarus.
The last presidential elections on 19th of December 2010 ended in mass detentions of protesters, with leaders of opposition being imprisoned, independent media cracked down, and Internet users reported by their service provider for visiting opposition websites… Ever since coming to the power in 1994 the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenka, has oppressed the freedom of his people and ignored their voices.
We decry Europe’s last dictatorship and want to show support for the suppressed Belarusian people lacking even basic human rights taken for granted by Europeans elsewhere today. In particular we want to show solidarity with the young people in Belarus and empower them to fight for their rights and make them aware that the European youth civil society is fully supportive of their cause.
We demand abolishment of death penalty, respect of human rights, democratic elections and freedom of press, assembly and association and a clear attitude of the European Union towards Belarus. Deeply appalled by the on-going human rights violations in Belarus, we recall the historic achievement of the European integration project which brought peace and democracy to our continent. That’s why we call the EU and its Member States to strictly enforce sanctions such as travel and visa restrictions against high officials as well as restrictive measures like the freezing of assets, in order to increase the pressure on Lukashenka.
At the same time the EU should look for ways of supporting the young people in Belarus directly via democratic and youth-led organisations operating both within the country as well as in the diaspora. Making Belarus and cooperation in the field of youth and education a priority within the Eastern Partnership could be a way of giving a helping hand to those who need it, supporting democracy movements in Belarus while isolating the regime and putting ever more pressure on it. Young Belarusians should have the right to move freely around Europe to meet and exchange with their peers and enjoy equal opportunities of benefiting from European mobility programmes.
We invite all European youth to speak up for freedom and democracy in Belarus and we call European politicians and people all over the world to join us in a global call for freedom, democracy and respect of human rights in Belarus.
- Young European Federalists – JEF-Europe (www.jef.eu)
- European Youth Forum (www.youthforum.org)
- AEGEE (www.aegee.org)
- Democrat Youth Community of Europe – DEMYC (www.demyc.org)
- European Democrat Students – EDS (www.edsnet.org)
- European Liberal Youth – LYMEC (www.lymec.eu)
- Federation of Young European Greens – FYEG (www.fyeg.org)
- International Federation of Liberal Youth – IFLRY (www.iflry.org)
- International Union of Socialist Youth – IUSY (www.iusy.org)
- Youth of the European People’s Party – YEPP (www.youthepp.eu)
- Young European Socialists – YES (www.youngsocialists.eu)
More information on www.free-belarus.eu