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Belarus crisis calls for urgent action from international community

Transparency International is horrified by the violent attacks, arbitrary arrests and brutal repression unleashed by the Government of Alexander Lukashenko against peaceful protesters in Belarus. We stand in solidarity with the people of Belarus who have shown incredible courage through their peaceful resistance to the country’s authoritarian regime since Sunday’s unfair election.

We are calling on the international community to come together in this critical moment and step up support to the people of Belarus through all diplomatic and political means available.

Today, European Union foreign ministers will discuss the possibility of imposing individual, targeted sanctions against Belarus government officials and their family members.

This is a critical tool that may help end government violence against its own people. We are calling on other governments to urgently review their own tools to protect the people of Belarus.

Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International, said: “Individual sanctions in the form of asset freezes and travel bans against those perpetrating or aiding violence have the potential to hurt the authoritarian regime at the highest level and encourage them to listen to the clear demands of the people.”

Protests broke out in Minsk and other cities after Alexander Lukashenko, president for 26 years, claimed victory by a landslide over his opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in elections mired in allegations of vote rigging and widely dismissed for not being free or fair.

“Alexander Lukashenko was elected by the people of Belarus in 1994 on an anti-corruption platform. He has betrayed his mandate and the trust of his people on many occasions during his 26 years as president,” said Oksana Drebezova, Transparency International’s national contact in Belarus.

“We are out in the streets – everybody who has courage and strength – to show that we will not stand another stolen election. Government has responded by unleashing riot police, mass detentions and violence, suppressing protesters rights and freedoms,” added Drebezova.

Two people have died. Since Sunday, 6,700 people – including journalists – have been detained, some of whom have now been released. Shocking reports of torture, beatings, threats of rape and humiliation of detainees have been emerging.

The unprecedented brutality that the government has committed against its own people must cease immediately.

Transparency International has condemned the violence against peaceful protesters in Belarus and called on the government to enter into dialogue with the opposition on a peaceful way forward for the country.

“Elections in Belarus were neither free nor fair. Rather than committing acts of violence against its citizens, including the arrests of journalists and activists, the government should enter into dialogue to solve this crisis,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International.

“Once the crisis is over, Lukashenko and his regime must answer for the acts of violence and gross breaches of universal human rights in European and international courts,” continued Ferreira Rubio.

Notes to editors:

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