COPENHAGEN, 27 June 2012 – More than 60 parliamentarians from 21 countries have co-sponsored a resolution that recommends pulling the 2014 International Ice Hockey World Championships out of Belarus unless authorities release all political prisoners being held there.
The resolution before the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly calls on Belarus to release and exonerate all political prisoners and respect the rule of law, media freedom and freedom of movement.
“In hockey you get five minutes for fighting, in Belarus you get five years for peaceful protest,” said Tony Lloyd (United Kingdom). “As countries are toughening sanctions on Belarus, the last thing we should do is undercut those efforts by rewarding Minsk’s repressive behavior with an international event and all the revenue that would come with it.”
Parliamentarians from across 56 countries, including Belarus, will vote on the measure at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Annual Session 5-9 July in Monaco.
Lloyd led the 2010 OSCE election observation mission in Belarus when hundreds of demonstrators, including opposition activists and journalists, were arrested en masse, several of whom remain in prison today. Since 2010, new arrests and convictions have been made, including leading human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, who was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for tax evasion connected to his professional activities with the NGO Viasna.
The International Ice Hockey Federation plans to hold the 2014 world championships in Belarus.
The measure would also call for authorities in Minsk to:
stop harassing and persecuting trade unions, journalists and human rights defenders,
suspend the house arrest imposed on former political prisoners,
allow an international investigation into allegations of torture in prisons,
allow OSCE Parliamentary Assembly representatives to visit political prisoners, and
reconsider applications of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party and the non-governmental organization Viasna, who have been denied registration without due cause.
The resolution welcomes the release of former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov and his associate Zmitser Bandarenka. Full text of the resolution is available here.
The Monaco Annual Session, including committee debates and votes, are open to the press and public. Further information on the Annual Session is available here. Resolutions adopted at the Annual Session along with the Monaco Declaration help to shape OSCE and national policy.
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This is a press release issued by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. The views expressed in this press release do not necessarily reflect those of the OSCE Chairmanship, nor of all OSCE participating States.
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is comprised of 320 parliamentarians from 55 countries spanning, Europe, Central Asia and North America. The Assembly provides a forum for parliamentary diplomacy, monitors elections, and strengthens international cooperation to uphold commitments on political, security, economic, environmental and human rights issues.