The closer the elections, the greater the pressure on civil society in Belarus
In the run-up to the parliamentary elections, which are to be held in Belarus on 23 September, the pressure has increased not only on politicians, but also on human rights defenders.
Wednesday, 08 August 2012, by Belarusian HRH based on belaruspartisan.org, spring96.org, charter97.org
The KGB threatened Siarhei Skrabets, ex-member of the Belarusian House of Representatives, forcing him to withdraw from the election. The politician, who had already spent 18 months in prison, was threatened that he would face a new jail sentence, and his and his relatives' property would be confiscated.
Threats and pressure instead of the right to be elected
The initiative group of Siarhei Skrabets, candidate in Lida constituency № 56, has been paralyzed and practically disbanded by means of intimidation, threats and blackmailing by the leaders of Lida District Executive Committee and the KGB. Skrabets explains:
"The head of my team was not allowed to go on holiday at work and was in fact put under house arrest. Members of my initiative group received threats to be dismissed or expelled from universities. As a result, only 3 people out of 15 were not scared and agreed to go on working for me. My relatives and me also received threats from the KGB".
Siarhei Skrabets had already been imprisoned for allegedly causing damage to state property. Being released in 2006, he could not get a job ever since. This year, Siarhei Skrabets was going run as candidate in parliamentary election, which is to be held in Belarus on 23 September. However, the KGB began to threaten Siarhei:
"They threatened to "make me keep silence". I can say what I have been though during the last few years. They seized my property and the property of my parents and relatives. Nine people were imprisoned on false accusations. I cannot find a job for eight years. They threatened if I did not shut up I could face such problems again, including imprisonment. But I am quitting not because I am afraid of these threats. I fear for my people, who live and work in Lida, who have nowhere to go, and who do not want to be imprisoned".
Human rights defenders are also under pressure
Late on 2 August road police stopped the car with promotional products of "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" campaign. A police report was drawn by the Rasony District Police Department, and the production, among which there were bags, stationery, T-shirts with campaign's logo, was confiscated for "examination".
The promotional materials were designed for long-term observers, journalists and lawyers of the campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”.
Belarusian HRH based on belaruspartisan.org, spring96.org, charter97.org