- ALDE Press Release , dinsdag 28 maart 2017
The ALDE Group in the European Parliament strongly condemns the massive crackdown launched by riot police on protesters trying to hold a banned march in Belarus. Almost a thousand people were arrested and many of them were beaten by police and needed medical attention over the weekend.
MEP Hans van Baalen (VVD, The Netherlands), ALDE Group’s coordinator in Foreign Affairs Committee, said:
"In Belarus thousands took to the streets in peaceful protest but were rounded up and arrested en masse. If Belarus truly wants to improve its ties with the West and reduce its dependency on Russia then it must stop treating opposition and discerning voices with such heavy-handed approaches. The Belarusian authorities should release all political prisoners immediately."
ALDE MEP, Petras Auštrevičius (Liberal Movement of Lithuania) said this is the worst assault by the authorities in Belarus against unarmed civilians, in the last 7 years:
"The repression of protesters in Belarus is unprecedented in scale since 2010. Sadly, they come exactly one year after the EU Council’s decision to enter into a so-called re-engagement policy with Minsk. President Lukashenko showed reciprocity by rigging parliamentary elections in September 2016, by keeping the death penalty in force and by clamping down on peaceful protesters in the streets of Minsk and across the country. I am convinced that the EU's stance towards Lukashenko's regime has been wrong and should be put on a firmer values - based foundation. The EU should suspend its financial assistance going directly to Lukashenko's government and instead support those who strive for a European and democratic Belarus. All those responsible for violent acts must be put on the sanctions list."
Protesters in Belarus took the streets in reaction to a new labour law that forces citizens to pay the government the equivalent of 240 EUR if they work less than six months in a year, or if they fail to register with state labour exchanges.