Libereco condemns the long prison sentences for Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski and human rights defenders Valiantsin Stefanovic and Uladzimir Labkovich in Belarus. The crimes of the Lukashenko regime must now be brought before an international Belarus Special Tribunal.

In a show-trial in Minsk on Friday, the three leading Belarusian human rights activists Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovic and Uladzimir Labkovich were sentenced to prison terms of ten, nine and seven years respectively. The three political prisoners have been active for many decades in the human rights centre Viasna, the largest and most important Belarusian human rights organisation. Like all other human rights organisations in Belarus, Viasna was dismantled and banned.

Today’s sentences against the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and his two colleagues come as little surprise. After all, the regime of dictator Alexander Lukashenko dictates the judges’ sentences. There are currently almost 1,500 political prisoners in Belarus who have been sentenced to long prison terms of up to 20 years.

European democracies must take decisive action against the Lukashenko regime

“The long prison sentences for our long-time partners and friends Ales, Valiantsin and Uladzimir shock and sadden us. But, even more, they make us angry at the criminal Lukashenko and his helpers and abettors. In the middle of Europe, we are witnessing the human crime of thousands of innocent people being taken hostage by a brutal dictator. European democracies must not tolerate this any longer and must take decisive action against the Lukashenko regime,” says Lars Bünger, President of Libereco Switzerland.

Libereco calls on the governments of all democratic countries to take five concrete measures in response to the imprisonment of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and almost 1,500 other political prisoners:

    1. The international community must establish a Belarus Special Tribunal to bring justice to the tens of thousands of victims of the Lukashenko regime and punish the perpetrators for their crimes.
    2. All international sports federations must exclude Belarus from all competitions as long as there are political prisoners in the country and Belarus is a warring party on Russia’s side in the war against Ukraine. In particular, UEFA is called upon to immediately exclude Belarus from the 2024 European Football Championship, whose qualifying matches are about to begin.
    3. All Western companies that maintain production facilities in Belarus that do not directly produce essential or medical goods must withdraw completely from Belarus as long as the country remains a dictatorship.
    4. Expulsions and repatriations of people to Belarus must be stopped as long as the rule of law does not prevail in Belarus and all people in the country can arbitrarily become victims of state repression.
    5. Any representation of the Republic of Belarus abroad outside the activities of Belarusian embassies must be stopped. In particular, the activity of Belarusian honorary consuls must be prohibited.