Jagland reacts to sentencing of opposition activist in Belarus

Strasbourg, 18.02.2011 – "Reducing the opposition to silence and ignoring basic democratic principles will not help President Lukashenka and the Belarusian authorities to gain legitimacy or credibility among the international community," said Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland today.

His statement followed the sentencing of Vasil Parfiankou to 4 years imprisonment, at the end of the first in a series of trials of people arrested during the demonstrations that took place in Belarus after the contested 19 December 2010 presidential elections.

Secretary General Jagland reiterated the Council of Europe's insistence that the Belarus authorities immediately release presidential candidates, journalists and human rights activists arrested in the wake of the presidential elections, and put an immediate end to the oppression of the democratic political opposition, the independent media and civil society.

"I am particularly concerned that the long sentence handed down to Mr Parfiankou bodes ill for the forthcoming trials of the detained presidential candidates. The Council of Europe will be watching closely to see how the authorities treat the leaders of the democratic forces jailed since the demonstrations in Minsk; the imposition of harsh sentences would be a clear signal of the government's refusal to commit itself to upholding basic democratic standards and fundamental human rights," said Mr Jagland.

Council of Europe Directorate of Communication
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