BRUSSELS, 24 March 2006 - OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, expressed today his deep disappointment and regret over the overnight crackdown by the Belarusian authorities against the peaceful demonstration which had been taking place on the October Square in Minsk since Sunday night.
"I vigorously condemn the repression by the Belarusian police against demonstrators who were peacefully expressing their opinion," the OSCE Chairman De Gucht said. "It is particularly disappointing and worrying that the Belarusian authorities did not take the many calls for restraint into account and did not refrain from repressive action. I am concerned now over the safety and the well-being of those arrested," he added.
The OSCE Chairman urged again the Belarusian authorities to release the hundreds of people who are being detained for expressing their dissent views or for conducting civic actions in a peaceful way. He also called on the authorities to provide exhaustive information about these people in custody, the location and the conditions of their detention as well as the charges they face.