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Belarus: Ban again calls on Government to release detainees

1 February 2011 – Voicing concern at reports of harassment of political opponents in Belarus, Secretary–General Ban Ki–moon today reiterated his call for the release of journalists, opposition candidates and their supporters detained after recent presidential elections.

“The Secretary–General continues to call for respect for the rule of law, democratic principles and protection of human rights in Belarus,” spokesman Farhan Haq told a news briefing in New York.

“He is concerned about reports of harassment and continued detention of journalists, civil society activists and opposition candidates. The Secretary–General reiterates his call for their release and for the full adherence to due process.”

Mr. Ban also called for the release of detainees last month following President Alexander Lukashenko’s victory in December’s elections. Immediately after the poll, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay voiced deep concern at the post–electoral violence, including the abduction of opposition candidates, and called for the immediate release of those detained.

She had noted in particular that a leading opposition candidate was attacked on his way to a mass rally in the capital, Minsk, hospitalized and later abducted by unidentified persons. In addition, attempts by some radical supporters of opposition candidates to break into a government building were followed by mass detentions of opposition candidates and their supporters, human rights activists and journalists, and harassment of civil society.

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