EU Meets Belarus Ten Years after Disappearance of Regime Critic

Today the EU launches its Eastern partnership aiming at creating closer bonds between the EU and six countries in east, among these the dictatorship Belarus. The project is launched at the EU summit in Prague where representatives of the Belarusian president Aljaksandr Lukasjenka will participate. At the same time it is exactly ten years since the regime critic Jury Zacharanka disappeared without a trace on May 7 1999.

Zacharanka was seen as a possible contender to dictator Lukasjenka. His disappearance along with the disappearance of three other dissidents in the years 1999-2000 are still unresolved. According to reliable testimonies, four persons from Lukasjenka’s closest circle were involved in the disappearances and the EU has for several years applied sanctions directed at the high officials who have been identified as suspects.

The Eastern partnership, which the Swedish government has been part in initiating, will be grounded on common values of democracy and respect for the human rights. The Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has an excellent opportunity to manifest this in Prague by bringing attention to the disappearance of Zacharanka.

The tone which will be set at the meeting in Prague will be guiding for the future development of the Eastern partnership. To clearly show where the EU stands regarding these values is especially important considering that the EU invited Lukasjenka to the meeting, despite the crimes against human rights constantly being committed in Belarus.

We therefore expect Fredrik Reinfeldt and the other participants to emphasize the importance of democracy and human rights. One concrete way to do this is to call attention to the fact that it is ten years since the disappearance of Jury Zacharanka. It would constitute a clear demonstration against human rights crimes and at the same time send a strong signal of solidarity with the Belarusian democracy movement.

Robert Hårdh, Secretary General of the Swedish Helsinki Committee

Martin Uggla, Chairman of the Swedish Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights

Footnote

The Belarusian democracy movement will today commemorate the memory of Jury Zacharanka at demonstrations in Minsk and in Prague. The Swedish Helsinki Committee is present in Prague during the EU summit.

Categories: News.
Tags: Disappearances, EU-Belarus dialogue, and Human Rights Defenders.
Regions: Belarus.