The Lukashenko regime’s repression against its own population is at a record level. Libereco therefore once again calls on the Belarusian Honorary Consuls in Germany and Switzerland to resign immediately. The crimes against humanity committed in Belarus must be brought before a special tribunal.

1,000 days have passed since the Belarusian presidential elections on 9 August 2020 and the brutal suppression of the subsequent mass protests. Since the beginning of the nationwide demonstrations for freedom and democracy, more than 38,000 people have been arrested, according to the Belarusian human rights center Viasna. Between 2020 and 2023, there were more than 2,240 political prisoners in total. There are still 1,500 of them in Belarusian prisons – among them is Ales Bialiatski, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2022 and head of Viasna. The prison sentences of all currently imprisoned political prisoners add up to 5,300 years – a sad record.

“For 1,000 days now, we have witnessed the crime against humanity of hostage-taking and torture of thousands of innocent people by the Lukashenko regime, which is able to stay in power by Putin’s grace alone. The European democracies must no longer tolerate this and must finally take decisive action against Lukashenko and his gang. To this end, the international community must set up a special tribunal to hold Lukashenko and all his helpers and abettors accountable for their crimes. As a member of the UN Security Council, Switzerland should raise the issue of the devastating human rights situation in Belarus,” says Lars Bünger, President of Libereco Switzerland.

Over 100,000 people fled Belarus

According to a March 2023 report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, systematic, widespread and serious human rights violations are being committed in Belarus, some of which may be considered crimes against humanity. According to the UN report, at least 100,000 people had to flee Belarus and seek protection abroad after the 2020 presidential elections. They have since been unable to return to the country because of the threat of arbitrary detention, ill-treatment in detention and unfair trials.

In recent weeks, Libereco has received several worrying messages about the situation of political prisoners:

    • Since mid-February, the wife of Social Democrat Mikalai Statkevich has received no sign of life from her husband, who is believed to be incommunicado.
    • Former presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka had to be hospitalised after allegedly being severely beaten in prison.
    • And Raman Pratasevich, whose Ryanair plane was forced to land in Minsk in 2021, received an eight-year prison sentence this week.

Honorary consuls must resign

Despite Belarus’ extensively documented human rights violations and direct support for Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, four of the former seven honorary consuls in Germany and Switzerland still represent the Lukashenko regime. Immediately after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, two honorary consuls in Germany and one honorary consul in Switzerland had resigned. Most recently, the Belarusian honorary consul in Liechtenstein also resigned in January 2023. However, the Belarusian regime continues to be officially represented by Hermann Alexander Beyeler and Andrey Nazheskin (Switzerland) as well as by Martin Schröder and Frank Kossick (Germany).

“Still these four gentlemen cling to their posts as honorary consuls of the Republic of Belarus in Germany and Switzerland. Their moral compass is obviously completely broken. I have no other explanation for the fact that they have still not resigned from their representative posts almost three years after the brutal suppression of the mass protests in Belarus and more than a year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which was supported by the Lukashenko regime. Libereco calls on all four Belarusian honorary consuls to resign immediately and to clearly distance themselves from the criminal Lukashenko regime,” states Marco Fieber, Managing Director of Libereco Germany.