Markus Löning, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, today (4 July) issued the following statement on the arrest of more than 100 peaceful demonstrators in Minsk:
"It is an absolute outrage that security forces in Belarus have again, on Independence Day, taken brutal action against peaceable citizens. Their response was totally out of proportion and violated fundamental human rights. Protecting the right to freedom of opinion is a police duty. The peaceful demonstrators must be released without delay and without sentence.
Germany stands by those citizens of Belarus who fearlessly and untiringly champion democracy and freedom. President Lukashenko is obviously very frightened if he has people arrested for clapping.
The German Government renews its demand for the immediate release of all political prisoners, the review of all politically-motivated sentences and an end to all repression.”
On 3 July, more than 100 people were violently seized and subjected to provisional arrest during an official event in Minsk marking Belarus’ Independence Day. They had tried to clap during President Lukashenko’s speech as a way of expressing their protest against the regime. Since the start of June, thousands of Belarusians have assembled for the “silent protests” held every Wednesday in Minsk and other cities. Many of them have been provisionally arrested and fined or given short prison sentences.