It was appalling to learn that the number of political prisoners in Belarus exceeded the 1000 mark today. These are 1000 individuals who have done nothing but stand up for their human and civil rights. People who have simply been going about their normal jobs as teachers, shop assistants, media professionals or trade union members. Some 1000 persons who have been unjustly robbed of their freedom. It is not only the prisoners themselves who have been affected but also their parents, husbands and wives as well as their children.
The sheer number of political prisoners highlights the brutality and ruthlessness of the Belarusian regime as it takes action against peaceful citizens.
I call on the Belarusian authorities to finally honour the international commitments they themselves have entered into, also within the OSCE framework, to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally and to fully rehabilitate them.
Germany and the European Union stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with those people in Belarus and around the world who are working to ensure that human rights are respected and democratic and rule of law principles upheld.