“We call for the immediate release of all peaceful protesters and warn that in the event of repeated harsh reactions towards media representatives, democratic opposition and citizens, the EU may consider reintroducing targeted sanctions which would undermine the progress reached in relations with Belarus”, announced Bogdan Zdrojewski MEP, the EPP Group’s lead negotiator on the Resolution on Belarus which was adopted today by the European Parliament.
“The Belarusian authorities respond inadequately to peaceful demonstrations. The reaction to the demonstration during the Belarusian Freedom Day on 25 March is incomprehensible”, he added.
Since 17 February, mass peaceful protests by thousands of citizens have been taking place in several cities across Belarus in reaction to the presidential decree aimed at introducing a tax on non-employment. On 25 March, about 700 people tried to march along Minsk’s main avenue on the occasion of Freedom Day. They were blocked by police and arrests followed, including domestic and foreign journalists reporting on the events, human rights defenders and democratic opposition leaders.
On the occasion of the vote, Mr Zdrojewski, who also chairs the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Belarus, took the opportunity to encourage the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, which plans to hold its annual session in Minsk in July, to take account of these events and to include opposition parties, independent media and civil society organisations in the meeting.