Opposition forum calls for putting Lukashenko on trial

  • 2006-04-19
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - Meeting at a forum in Vilnius last week, Belarusian opposition forces brainstormed how to organize a more effective battle against Aleksandr Lukashenko's totalitarian regime. One proposal went so far as to suggest the international community put Lukashenko on trial in absentia.

"Under President Lukashenko, Belarus has become a country where regime opponents are persecuted, the free media is banned and public criticism may result in several years' imprisonment," read an address passed out during the round-table discussion, which was organized by the Lithuanian-based Belarusian Institute.
Authors of the address said Lukashenko's policies had long ago surpassed all limits of human tolerance. The Belarusian people will most likely bring the dictator to trial when circumstances allow. Yet before this day arrives, they're urging the international community to start a trial of Lukashenko's regime.

Forum participants suggested forming an international commission of recognized public figures to hold open hearings and bring charges against Lukashenko and his regime, specifically the international norms he has violated and the sanctions applied for these violations.
"We suppose that an open and public process will not only reveal the true scope of oppression in Belarus, will not only register the numerous facts of tramping on human rights and human dignity, but will also help save the lives and freedoms of those who today face arrest and other sanctions from the government," the address read.
Opposition representatives also suggest that a well-known international human rights organization, such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, open its specialized division in Vilnius in order to give the whole process more credibility and a broader appeal.

The event 's "Belarus after Elections. What Comes Next?" 's was attended by one opposition leader and United Civil Party Chairman Anatoly Lebedko, who was recently released from prison, supporters of presidential candidate Aleksander Kozulin, who is currently in jail awaiting trial, as well as participants in protests against Lukashenko's regime. Lithuanian politicians, public figures and journalists also attended.
MP Audronius Azubalis told the Baltic News Service that more attention had to be given to the dissemination of information if democracy is ever to succeed in Belarus.
"One of the main tools is radio-information broadcast, serious transmitters. As many Belarusian journalists as possible should be involved in the dissemination of information. Everybody agreed that current EU broadcasts were just a formality," said Azubalis, deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs.

In his words, Belarusian opposition representatives that attended the conference stressed the importance of free speech as well. "Belarusian representatives noted the importance of the media, as they have virtually no independent publication," he said.
The need to retain the opposition's unity was emphasized.
The forum was organized by the Democratic Policy Institute, Konrad Adenauer Foundation and opposition leader Andrius Kubili-us.
In the Belarusian presidential elections in late March, authoritarian President Aleksan-der Lukashenko was reelected for a third term. The European Union and the United States dismissed the election as undemocratic and refused to recognize the results.