Today is the third anniversary of the fraudulent presidential elections in Belarus. Over the following months, Lukashenko and his security forces brutally suppressed the protests sparked by that event. The human rights situation in the country has since deteriorated drastically. Far too many Belarusian citizens who peacefully exercised their rights, and far too many media professionals and civil society activists, have been wrongly imprisoned or forced to leave their homeland for their own safety. Non-governmental organisations have been disbanded and independent media designated as extremist. The potential use of the death penalty has been significantly expanded. At least 1500 people are wrongly imprisoned in Belarus; the true number could be far higher. Prison conditions are often extremely bad. Prisoners cannot be certain of maintaining contact with their families or obtaining adequate medical care.
A threat to its own people and its neighbours
At international level, too, the Belarusian regime has increasingly become a threat to its neighbours. The strategic exploitation of the migration situation on its borders with EU member states continues. The presence of Russian Wagner Group troops in the direct vicinity of the Polish border and the latest reports of border violations are further destabilising the situation. In addition, official reports from Minsk state that Russian tactical nuclear weapons have been in Belarus for the past few weeks. In February 2022, the Lukashenko regime made it possible for Russia to launch its illegal war of aggression against Ukraine from Belarusian territory and it has continued to support Russia ever since. The regime does not shrink from even the worst human rights violations committed as part of this war, including the abduction of Ukrainian children to Belarus and elsewhere.
Germany and its partners support Belarusian civil society
The international community has stood by the people of Belarus for the past three years. The award of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize and the 2023 UN Human Rights Prize to Belarusian civil society activists demonstrates that the international community will not simply forget these people’s courageous actions, which have been met with unprecedented repression. The European Union has imposed sanctions on Belarus – the latest package being adopted on 3 August – to punish human rights violations and breaches of international law, and to limit the regime’s means of supporting Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.
The Federal Foreign Office supports Belarusian civil society. To this end we are funding numerous projects to help various target groups from academics to media professionals. Together with international partners, we have also launched a mechanism to document human rights violations by the Lukashenko regime, investigating allegations and securing evidence. We support people who have been subjected to political persecution by helping them leave the country and also by assisting victims of state violence.