On the S&Ds’ request, the European Parliament will debate and vote on a resolution on the systemic repression in Belarus, following the abduction of journalist and activist Raman Pratasevich from an EU civilian plane intercepted by Belarusian authorities on May 23.
There are at least 470 political prisoners, more than 35.000 persons have been arrested or fined, thousands of cases of torture have been documented, and several persons have already been killed. The regime’s outright terror has become an international threat to peace and security in Europe, as demonstrated by the latest events.
The S&Ds call for urgent EU action based on large individual sanctions against all those responsible for repression, torture and ill-treatment of peaceful Belarusian citizens, and for substantial and impactful economic sanctions in coordination with like-minded partners, such as the US. Sanctions should particularly target the oil, potash, steel and wood-processing industries. S&Ds also support the organisation of a high-level international conference on the resolution of the crisis in Belarus and an international donors’ conference for a future democratic Belarus.
Robert Biedroń MEP, chair of the EP delegation to Belarus and the negotiator of the resolution on behalf of the S&Ds, said ahead of the debate:
“For the last 10 months, since Lukashenka has stolen the presidential elections, the Belarusian dictator felt he can act with impunity, because so far his crimes have not met the punishment they deserve. However, an interception of a civilian airplane is an act of state terrorism, which does not only constitute a serious breach of international conventions in the area of aviation safety, but also demonstrates that the regime has become a threat to international security.
“It is about time that the EU implements broad economic and sectoral sanctions, which will directly impact Lukashenka and his entourage. To further isolate the regime, it is of upmost importance that we coordinate our actions in this regard with partners such as the US, Canada or the UK. At the same time, we must continue to stand with the Belarusian society and its democratic representatives, who despite the repression and violence do not lose hope. They, not Lukashenka, are the only future for Belarus.”
Pedro Marques, S&D vice-president responsible for foreign affairs, added:
“Ordering the hijacking of the Ryanair flight to abduct Raman Pratasevich shows how far Lukashenko is willing to go to silence Belarusian people’s democratic aspirations and keep his autocratic power.
“The international community must not tolerate neither such an act of air piracy in Europe, nor torture and human rights violations in the EU neighbouring country. Apart from implementing sanctions, economic and sectorial, agreed at the last European Council, the EU must refuse any new credit lines to Belarusian banks, and halt any investments into infrastructure projects or economic undertakings in Belarus. This is what the Belarusian democratic opposition is expecting us to do.
“We shall not rest until Raman, his girlfriend Sofia, and all detained political prisoners are free and all acts of violence and inhuman treatment investigated and prosecuted.”