During a discussion on Belarus, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell painted a bleak picture of the situation in the country. “There is no doubt that the repression has intensified in Belarus. The absence of mass protests is not the result of a return to normalcy, but the result of systematic and brutal repression.”
At their summit on May 24, European leaders decided to adopt new sanctions against Belarus. Two days earlier, the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko had dared to land a Ryanair plane in Minsk to arrest dissident Roman Protasevic and his girlfriend Sofia Sabiga. Belarusian airlines are now no longer allowed to enter European airspace, and European airlines are being asked to avoid Belarus. Targeted economic sanctions will also be imposed. On Tuesday, Borrell said European foreign ministers would make decisions on this on June 21.
More and more legislation is being passed to narrow the limited scope of legal democratic activism.
According to the Spaniard, things are going from bad to worse in Belarus. “More and more legislation is being passed to limit the limited space for legal democratic activities,” he said. Any form of dissent is brutally crushed and human rights are no longer respected, even the legal framework for this has been established. Lukashenko recently signed a decree allowing law enforcement agencies to use weapons against activists.
Kathleen Van Brempt (Forweet) wants the EU to impose additional sanctions “against anyone responsible for the repression, torture and ill-treatment of peaceful Belarusian citizens”. Economic sanctions must be accelerated.
Arrests, torture and deaths
In the 10 months since Lukashenko declared himself president again, at least 470 people have been held as political prisoners, more than 35,000 people have been arrested or fined, thousands have been tortured and numerous deaths have occurred in Belarus. “This isn’t the end yet,” says Van Prempt. “Today comes news that Lukashenko has signed a new law that tightens penalties against the opposition and demonstrators.”
You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs: we have to take measures that, unfortunately, will also affect the Belarusian economy.
Borrell agreed with the deputies who said that Lukashenko is a real dictator, also supported by Russia. “We must do everything in our power to support the Belarusian people and spare ordinary citizens (by European measures, ed.). However, you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs: we have to take measures that, unfortunately, will also hit the Russian economy, but at the same time Civil society, independent media and the rule of law must be supported and continue to stress the importance of fair and free elections.”
But such an election is still a long way off in Belarus. “We know that,” Borrell concluded.
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