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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

12.02.2021 - Article

For over six months now, people in Belarus have been demonstrating peacefully against the electoral fraud in the August 2020 presidential election. The political leadership in Minsk continues to respond with repression and violence.

The Federal Foreign Office is now going to expand its support for civil society.

The political crisis in Belarus is now at more of a dead-end than ever. The regime under strongman Lukashenko continues to respond to the peaceful demonstrations with repression, violence and intimidation. Tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators have been arrested to date and so the number of political prisoners continues to increase. Civil-society actors are subjected to targeted harassment and political persecution.

Given this situation, the Federal Foreign Office has decided to expand its support for civil society, which has been a central pillar of Germany’s foreign policy in Belarus for years. In so doing, we want to make a contribution towards responding to the political crisis and the violence in Belarus.

The “Action plan for civil society in Belarus” will launch new projects in addition to existing programmes. The Federal Foreign Office is providing total funding of up to €21m to finance the following measures, among others:

  • support for students, doctoral students and researchers through the continuation and – where possible – expansion of existing programmes such as the Philipp Schwartz Initiative and the development of new scholarship programmes;
  • 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;
  • treating traumatised victims of torture;
  • support for independent trade unions;
  • easier entry for victims of political persecution, e.g. by issuing visas and allowing them into Germany.

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