Gernot Erler, the Coordinator for Intersocietal Cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership Countries, issued the following statement today (24 March) on the large number of demonstrators who were arrested during socially motivated public protests:
Current developments in Belarus are extremely worrying. The freedom of public assembly and of expression are precious rights that must also be respected in Belarus.
Regarding the actions that Belarusian authorities have taken against peaceful demonstrators, the question arises as to their proportionality. It is time for the Belarusian Government to release, as soon as possible, all peaceful demonstrators, including the journalists, who are in administrative detention, in accordance with the demand made by the European Union on 21 March.
Moreover, I expect the Belarusian authorities to take a measured approach towards the Freedom Day demonstrations that have been announced for tomorrow, 25 March. This means there should be no use of force in connection with the demonstrations.