According to the reports received prior to publication of this statement, Belarusian authorities raided the offices of at least 7 prominent human rights organisations, including the Belarusian Association of Journalists and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, both members of the Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House (BHRH). In addition, the authorities detained 7 staff members of Human Rights Center “Viasna”, also a member of BHRH. 

We demand the immediate release of those human rights defenders detained today, Valiantsin Stefanovich, Uladzimir Labkovich, Andrei Paluda, Siarhei Sys, Alena Laptsenak, Aleh Matskevich, and Ihar Kazmerchak. We reiterate our demand for the release of all other journalists, lawyers, and human rights defenders who remain detained by the authorities; including, Marfa Rabkova, Andrei Chapiuk, Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa, and Andrei Aliaksandrau . We also demand the immediate cessation of violence and repression committed by the Belarusian authorities against independent civil society organisations.

Today’s actions by the Belarusian authorities are also likely reprisals against those who engaged with international human rights mechanisms. Belarusian human rights defenders have worked bravely and tirelessly to share information about gross human rights violations with the UN Human Rights Council, UN Security Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and UN Special Procedures, among others. We call on the international community to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of all human rights defenders who engage with international human rights mechanisms.

Human Rights House Foundation stands in solidarity with Belarusian human rights defenders and the Belarusian people as they bravely continue their calls for human rights and democratic values in the face of unrelenting violence, repression, torture, and degrading treatment committed by Belarusian authorities.

Top photo: Protests in Minsk, 2020.