Belarus: Criminal case against opposition is a shocking violation of freedom of expression

Responding to the announcement that Belarus’s Prosecutor General has launched a criminal case against the Coordination Council, a new body formed by opposition leaders, Bruce Millar, Amnesty International’s Acting Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“Not content with arresting thousands of protesters, torturing detainees and beating up journalists and medics, the Belarusian authorities have now accused peaceful opposition leaders of being a threat to national security. This demonstrates just how far the regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka is willing to go to cling to power. If anything is threatening peace and security in Belarus it is the authorities’ violence against their own people.

“This development has once again proved that there is no space in Belarus for any opinion that questions or criticizes President Lukashenka’s government. It has extinguished any remaining illusions that the authorities are interested in respecting human rights and the rule of law.

“We continue to call on the Belarusian authorities to end abuses against peaceful protesters, and remind them of their obligation under international law to respect the right to freedom of expression. The Prosecutor’s announcement is likely to appal protesters, and the people of Belarus must be able to express their views without fear of reprisals.”

For more information please contact Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada (English branch), 613-744-7667 ext. 236,