Western sanctions against the regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka will remain in effect until brutal repression in Belarus ceases and all political prisoners are released. This is stated to the media by Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, regarding the recognition of more than 1,000 people as political prisoners by human rights activists in Belarus.
“The Lukashenka regime now holds more than 1,000 political prisoners. These Belarusians, from all walks of life, have been arrested and confined simply because they peacefully exercised their rights to freedom of expression and assembly in response to a fraudulent election and the Lukashenka regime’s abuses. Tens of thousands more innocent Belarusians have also spent time in jail since and in the lead up to the fraudulent presidential election in August 2020,” the statement says.
Blinken recalled that the United States and its allies imposed five rounds of sanctions against those responsible for repression and the Lukashenka regime as a whole.
“Those sanctions will remain in place until the authorities cease their relentless repression of the Belarusian people, including by unconditionally releasing all political prisoners,” the Secretary of State said.
He noted that their families were also suffering together with political prisoners, and many of those who had been imprisoned had been subjected to ill-treatment and torture. Such facts are widely documented, Blinken said in a statement.
“Some political prisoners suffer from serious illnesses and disabilities and have been denied necessary qualified medical care or deliberately abused to worsen their conditions. They often are unable to find adequate legal representation due to the regime’s reprisals against defense lawyers. Dozens of lawyers have been stripped of their law licenses – and sometimes jailed themselves – because they dared to represent prisoners or opposition figures,” the head of the State Department recalled.
The United States calls again for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, recognizing this as a necessary step for Belarus to emerge from the political crisis.
“We will continue to work for justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators. We call on Belarus to meet its commitments as a participating state of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and its international legal obligations to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. We stand with the people of Belarus as they seek a future based on the rule of law and accountable, democratic government,” the statement by the State Secretary says.