Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel issued the following statement today (28 March) on the demonstrations in Belarus:
The action taken by the Belarusian authorities against peaceful citizens demonstrating for important social issues sends a challenging signal. The people who took to the streets on Saturday and also in recent weeks have exercised a right that is indispensable for a pluralist society. Taking violent action against this is out of proportion. The same goes for the many arrests of protesters and journalists in their midst.
An open society must tolerate a plurality of opinions and be capable of withstanding a dialogue on critical questions. The responsible authorities must not only respect the right to peaceful demonstrations and the freedom of opinion, but must also ensure that people are able to exercise these rights.
Those who are still in administrative detention must be released as swiftly as possible. There must be no further unjustified arrests and sentences only because people say what they think.
We remain committed to good and thriving relations on the basis of common interests and our European values. However, there is no denying that these developments represent a setback.