MINSK, 17 July 2021, (TON): In response to office raids and the arrests of dozens of human rights defenders and activists across Belarus, Freedom House issued the following statement:
Marc Behrendt, director of Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House said “we strongly condemn the continuing attempts to use force to destroy independent civil society in Belarus,”
Determined to stifle all types of dissent, the regime continues to terrorize the nation by targeting its bravest citizens who, despite the high risk of political persecution, remain committed to serving Belarusians and improving their country. We demand that Belarusian authorities immediately put an end to this assault and release all human rights defenders and activists, and we call on the international community to take joint action in support of Belarusian civil society.
On July 14, Belarusian security forces raided at least 21 civil society organizations, searching houses, seizing documents, and arresting dozens of leading human rights defenders and activists.
A day earlier, during his meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Alyaksandr Lukashenka threatened nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), as well as foreign media outlets, claiming that they engaged in “terror” under the guise of spreading democracy.