Four members of a Youth Political Wing Imprisoned in Belarus

Ireland and the EU must act against President Lukasenko

While we in Western Europe enjoyed the Christmas holidays, four young members of Belarus' pro-western and pro-democracy party, Malady Front, spent the last week imprisoned without trial or reason. This youth organisation has worked closely with YoungFine Gael through our common membership of the Youth of the European People's Party (YEPP).

Young Fine Gael (YFG) International Secretary, Colm Lauder, was contacted by Ms. Valery Matskevich (International Secretary of Malady Front), pleading for this matter to be raised in Dublin and Brussels as a matter of urgency. Four colleagues of Ms. Matskevich are currently imprisoned, having been arrested in their homes on Christmas Eve.

Ms. Matskevich stated that "Lukashenko is actively trying to prevent the spreading of information, especially he would like it not to extend beyond the borders of our country. There have been assaults on the offices of human rights centers in Belarus and independent websites have been hacked, especially English language websites. The internet is now our only weapon."

YFG and its Belarusian sister organisations have, for many years, denounced the authoritarian, undemocratic and nepotistic regime run by Aleksander Lukashenko. The oppression of protests following his "re-election" as President of Belarus, which free Belarusian press and International observers all acknowledge as fraudulent, have shocked observers, yet gone mostly unnoticed by the Irish Government and national press.

Mr. Lauder (in a letter to the YEPP membership) stated, "Lukashenko has shown that the authorities will use any means to prevent the will of the people in Belarus. For more than 16 years, he has used all possible tools at his disposal to manipulate people, to defraud elections, to eliminate free media and to oppress those who oppose his regime."

Young Fine Gael wants the Irish government and all other EU states to impose a visa ban on Lukashenko and his officials until the people of Belarus are given their right to free speech and free and fair elections are held in Belarus.

YFG urges the Irish government to take an immediate and leading role, through the EU, in pressuring the Belarusian regime to release, without delay, those imprisoned for voicing their support for democracy.

"We, in Fine Gael, will do our utmost to assist our Belarusian friends in their struggle for democracy, just as we struggled and succeeded in defending democracy in the early years of this state," said Mr. Lauder.

Ends.

Contact:

Colm Lauder ~ International Secretary Young Fine Gael

+353 87 9721560

+44 7787 444960

colmlauder@hotmail.com

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