The Presidency of the European Union condemns the severe sentencing of Syarhei Parsyukevich and Andrei Kim on 22 and 23 April 2008 in Minsk, for their participation in the entrepreneurs' demonstrations of 10 and 21 January.
The Presidency recalls that participation in demonstrations is an inalienable democratic right. In the light of the fact that the trials against them have been politically motivated and that the sentences passed on them seem disproportionate to the charges, the Presidency urges the Belarus authorities to re-examine the sentences and to immediately release Mr Parsyukevich and Mr Kim.
Furthermore, the Presidency expresses its great concern over the increased harassment of human rights defenders and independent media representatives in Belarus. In particular it condemns the detention of Pavel Levinov and the search of Vadim Borchtchevsky’s apartment.
The Presidency reminds Belarus of its commitment to respect the rights of human rights defenders and to create an environment where they may carry out their work without constraints. They also need to be protected against attacks and threats of non-State actors.
The Presidency regrets that, due to the increasing number of political prisoners, the continuous imprisonment of Mr Kazulin and the increased pressure on and harassment of the civil society and independent journalists, the Belarus government hinders the renewal of a constructive and mutually beneficial dialogue between Belarus and the European Union.
The Presidency reiterates that the unconditional release of all political prisoners would be considered by the EU as a concrete step towards Belarusian compliance with core European values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. This would provide for a possibility to review the restrictive measures in place against certain officials of Belarus, and to enable the EU to progressively re-engage with Belarus, in connection with further steps by Belarus in that direction.