Sunday, 21 September 2003
President Aleksandr Lukashenko
Republic of Belarus
Tel/Fax: +375 17 2235 825
Oslo, September 20th, 2003
Dear Mr. President Lukashenko,
During the last year, the Human Rights House Foundation in Norway has gathered information from Belarus which draws a clear picture of a dramatic narrowing of the official, legal and public space for civil society to act in Belarus. Recent events in Belarus show that this development particularly affects the free media and human rights organisations.
The Human Rights House Foundation is deeply concerned about the increased practise of official warnings to non-governmental organisations, the bureaucratic system of registration and the complicated set of operational guidelines set up by the authorities in Belarus. The practise of these measures violates the freedom of speech and freedom of association in Belarus, and leads to a massive clampdown on civil society structures, persecution of human rights defenders and a reduced human rights service to the citizens of Belarus. The Human Rights House Foundation hereby urges the authorities to stop this practise immediately and unconditionally.
The Human Rights House Foundation calls for your attention to the liquidation suit against the prominent non-governmental organisation "Human Rights Center, Viasna", to commence on September 23rd, 2003.
The Human Rights House Foundation finds the arguments of the suit by the Ministry of Justice not to be in accordance with international human rights principles and standards for human rights defenders, freedom of speech and freedom of association. The Human Rights House Foundation appeals to the Supreme Court and urges this court not to liquidate the organisation "Human Rights Center, Viasna".
Finally, the Human Rights House Foundation would like to draw your attention to the wording of article 1 in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders: "Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels."
The Human Rights House Foundation, Norway
· Head of the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus
· Head of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus
· Minister of Justice of the Republic of Belarus
· Prime Minister of Norway, Mr. Kjell Magne Bondevik
· Minister of Foreign Affairs in Norway, Mr. Jan Petersen
· Head of the Norwegian Parliament´s Committee for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland
· Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Norway, Human Rights Desk
· Heads of the Human Rights Houses in Moscow, Warsaw, Sarajevo, Bergen and Oslo
· Head of Human Rights Center "Viasna", Belarus, Mr. Ales Bialiatski