In a joint statement the European Parliament Vice-President Heidi Hautala (Greens, Finland)and the Subcommittee on Human Rights Chair Maria Arena (S&D, Belgium)said:
We condemn the latest arrests by the Minsk regime of human rights defenders and prominent civil society activists. Offices and private homes were raided last week in a new wide-spread attack targeting human rights, educational and civic organisations, charities and journalists.
Among the many detained are Sakharov Prize Laureate Ales Bialiatski , Viasna members lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich and his wife Nina Labkovich and human rights defender Valiantsin Stefanovich. We are deeply worried about their rights, health and well-being.
We demand the authorities in Belarus to immediately release them, as well as all detained human rights defenders, civil society activists, journalists and political prisoners.
Lukashenka’s regime must immediately cease its violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It must stop harassing, detaining, beating and torturing those who disagree with the regime or simply do their job to inform people and defend their rights.
In view of these developments, further EU restrictive measures against the Lukashenka regime should be considered.
Those responsible for these gross human rights violations will be held accountable. The EP will continue to support international initiatives and the use of universal jurisdiction to fight against impunity in Belarus, including through its Platform for accountability.
The European Parliament will continue its support for the people of Belarus in their search for free and fair elections and democracy.