Belarus: Crackdown on Political Activists, Journalists

(Berlin, July 30, 2020) – Police in Belarus have arbitrarily arrested journalists, bloggers, and political activists ahead of the August 9, 2020 presidential election and pressed charges against two potential candidates, Human Rights Watch said today.

The arrests raise concerns about interference with and violations of rights to freedom of expression, particularly media freedom and political speech, and freedom of assembly. Many of the arrests seemed timed to keep those detained locked away until at least after the elections.

Transcript

Viktar Babaryka, was barred because of dubious criminal charges against him. He’s now in prison.

 

Protests have erupted in Belarus ahead of the presidential vote on August 9.

 

People demonstrated after the country’s Central Election Commission barred two key opposition candidates.

 

Valer Tsapkala, was barred after thousands of endorsement signatures were deemed invalid. 

 

A third opposition candidate,  Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, is registered to run.

 

Her husband, Siarhei, planned to run. But he was jailed after leading anti-government protests.

 

During the presidential campaign police have arrested journalists, bloggers, and other demonstrators.

 

This is the first time that the OSCE, the main intergovernmental organization in the region, won’t monitor an election in the Eastern European country.

 

Belarus has been led by Alexander Lukashenka since 1994. He is running for a sixth term.

 

Elections should be a time to respect the exercise of civil and political rights. This is not happening in Belarus.

 

Belarus's leaders should know that this will not be ignored by the international community.