Belarus: free and fair election is the only route through impasse says PES Foreign Policy Network

02/09/2020

PES Foreign Policy Network

PES Foreign Policy Network meeting by videoconference

Socialists and democrats stand with the Belarusian people as they push for democracy. Europe must do everything it can to support the free and fair election they are demanding, the PES Foreign Policy Network agreed today.

Foreign affairs spokespersons, MEPs, MPs and key representatives from the PES political family convened by videoconference to assess the ongoing situation in Belarus.

PES Foreign Policy Network Chair Kati Piri MEP said:

“Brave Belarusians are continuing to stand up for democracy. They know the presidential election was falsified; the whole world knows it. Socialists and democrats stand with the protesters. A fair and free election must take place.

“I commend the courage of the hundreds of thousands of people who have already taken to the streets. Despite threats, police brutality and imprisonment, they are standing firm. Lukashenko’s violent crackdown must stop. Media suppression must stop. Demonstrators must be freed, and democracy and human rights must prevail.

“Until this happens, Europe has a responsibility to do what it can to support the Belarusian people. Socialists and democrats back tough sanctions on the regime and we support the aid for civil society announced by the Commission.”

The Network added its support to EU High Representative Josep Borrell, the S&D Group in the European Parliament and other socialists and democrats who are calling for a new free and fair vote. OSCE supervision - overseen by current OSCE Chair Edi Rama and incoming Chair Ann Linde - will be vital to facilitate dialogue and ensure fundamental democratic standards are met, the Network also agreed.

Socialists and democrats decry the authoritarian actions of the Lukashenko government. According to the opposition, 1500 people were arrested before the presidential elections on 9 August, and a further 8000 people have been detained since the vote, including strike leader Sergei Dylevsky and Tikhanovskaya’s political aide Olga Kovalkova. Nobel prize-winning writer Svetlana Alexievich was also questioned. Five people have died and 600 have been injured - torture and ill-treatment are widespread. Suppression of the media is increasing, including the revocation of accreditation for many international media.

The vital role of women in the fight for democracy in Belarus, both before and after the presidential election, must also not be forgotten. And the violence and oppression against them cannot stay unpunished. The PES and PES Women condemn the unacceptable misogyny expressed by the Belarusian government and stand in solidarity with the women of Belarus, who are changing the country for the better.