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Against repression and violence: An action plan for civil society in Belarus

Protests in Minsk following the presidential elections, 23 August 2020

Protests in Minsk following the presidential elections, 23 August 2020, © ©dpa

01.06.2022 - Article

Since the rigged presidential election in 2020, people in Belarus have been demonstrating peacefully against electoral fraud and state violence, calling for freedom of opinion and the release of political prisoners. The political leadership in Minsk is responding with unconcealed violence.

The human rights situation in Belarus has seen a marked deterioration since August 2020. The regime under strongman Lukashenko is persecuting members of the political opposition, and also civil-society actors, with massive repression, violence and intimidation. The number of political prisoners now lies at well over 1000. Hundreds of charitable associations have been forcibly dissolved, made to close down themselves or been driven into exile. The once diverse independent media scene has been almost completely broken down inside the country, but is building up again in exile. However, the leadership in Minsk continues to reject any form of the urgently needed dialogue with a wide cross-section of civil society.

Given this situation, the Federal Foreign Office has substantially expanded its support for civil society, which has been a central pillar of Germany’s foreign policy in Belarus for years. In so doing, we are helping to respond to the political crisis and the violence in Belarus.

The “Action plan for civil society in Belarus” expanded existing programmes and launched additional projects. The funding is financing the following measures, among others:

  • support for students, doctoral students and researchers through
  • promotion of independent media and civil-society project work, for example within the scope of the programme Expanding Cooperation with Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia;
  • support for victims of state violence;
  • easier entry for victims of political persecution, e.g. by issuing visas and allowing them into Germany.
  • documentation of severe human rights crimes via an International Accountability Platform.

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