US restricts visas for Belarusians for ‘continued repression’ | Human Rights News

Far-right groups say Belarus has targeted hundreds of activists, journalists and opposition figures since the 2020 election.

The United States has imposed a series of visa restrictions on Belarusians as the government “continues to suppress” opposition figures, including democracy icon Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski.

The restrictions announced Tuesday target 25 individuals, bringing the total number of Belarusians facing a US visa ban for “undermining democracy” to 322 since President Alexander Lukashenko re-elected President Alexander Lukashenko. Elected in 2020 in 2020. mudslide was dismissed by the opposition and foreign observers – including the US government and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – as a sham.

Human rights activists estimate that about 1,500 people are currently in prison in Belarus on charges deemed politically motivated.

“We will not stand by and watch this regime continue to harass and oppress peaceful protesters, the democratic opposition, journalists, unionists, activists, human rights defenders and citizens. Belarus daily,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The latest measures come as the trial of Tsikhanouskaya, Lukashenko’s main rival in 2020, begins in Minsk.

The Leader of the Opposition, who has fled the country and lives in exile in Lithuania since the election, criticized the trial in a tweet on Monday. She faces a number of charges, including treason and a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

“I was charged with more than 10 crimes. Did it change anything for me? Nothing, she posted. “It is just revenge of a pathetic dictator who has lost power and tries to avenge all those who stand up for freedom. Belarus needs real justice, not a puppet show.”

Tsikhanouskaya is on trial with Volha Kavalkova, head of the Coordination Council, the body tasked with supporting Belarus’ democratic transition.

In the press release, the US State Department also mentioned Belarusian Sports Solidarity founder Alex Apeikin and Belarusian Olympic swimmer Aliaksandra Herasimenia, both activists who in December guilty guilty of the crime of “infringing upon national security” and sentenced to 12 years in prison in absentia.

The State Department also rejected the prosecution of Nobel Peace Prize winner and “political prisoner” Ales Bialiatski, who was tried on charges related to funding the protests and smuggling money. starting at the beginning of january.

Belarusians targeted by Washington include members of the Belarusian Parliament, for “their role in passing legislation that would allow the death penalty to be imposed on those convicted of alleged ‘conspiracy'”. acts of terrorism’, an allegation used to suppress and intimidate the democratic and civil opposition. society,” Blinken said in the statement.

He added that some of those criticized have also supported the law that disenfranchises citizenship and allows for the confiscation of property of opposition figures living in exile.


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