Swedish Protest to Support Protesters in Belarus

June 23rd, 2011   Articles | Belarus | Foreign Policy

Yesterday in the evening about 9.000 people went to the central squares of their towns all over Belarus to a “silent protest” against the Belarusian government. During the protests in Minsk a Swedish diplomat was subject to violence and Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt has issued an official protest.

Not wanting to provoke the Police the many protesters gathered and walked in silence in the city centres, only clapping their hands when cars honked their horns in support of the peaceful protesters. The Police and Special forces tried to block the city centre in Minsk, limiting traffic and detaining people on their way to join the protest.

Over 460 people were detained in about 15 cities across the country, among them 19 journalists. Some of the detained individuals were harshly beaten by the special police forces and taken to hospitals.

The protest was initiated on Internet at the most popular social community Vkontakte which has over 2, 7 million Belarusian users. The group “Revolution through social community” on Vkontakte calls on citizens to gather on the central square of their town every Wednesday at 7.00 p.m. for a silent protest against the authoritarian regime of president Lukashenka demanding economic and political changes in the country.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Bild, said this morning:

“We condemn the violence against and arrests of peaceful protesters by the Belarusian regime. Last night a Swedish diplomat in Minsk was subject to this violence. This is unacceptable and constitutes yet another confirmation of the country’s lack of respect for basic democratic rights. A condition that Sweden and the EU clearly pointed out on numerous occasions.”

Following the incident Mr. Bildt has called the Belarusian ambassador to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Caption: Silent protesters in Minsk June 22, 2011. Photo by: Anton Matolka

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