"In Belarus, there has been no frontal violence against citizens for many years. Therefore, the EU canceled its economic sanctions. Especially in the last two years, the former Soviet republic began to converge with Europe again, and it seemed that rigid totalitarianism finally was weakening. As soon as new mass protests appeared, the regime responded as could be expected with brutal violence," says Martin Skalský, Head of Arnika – Center for Public Support.
A letter to support imprisoned activists and other citizens was written and sent. Dozens of NGOs from the whole world signed this supportive letter. Besides the release of unjustly convicted activists, the letter requires the restoration of freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and the end of the practice of arbitrary detention of citizens by different police units.
"We believe that solidarity of NGOs from other countries helped imprisoned activists. However, it is clear that colleagues in Belarus will now have difficult conditions for work and need support. Therefore, Arnika launched an annual project to help local civic activists and use legal procedures for defending the people's rights to live in a clean environment. The project is financed by the Program of Transformation Cooperation which is under the Czech Foreign Ministry. We will focus especially on rural regions where the situation is much worse than in cities," adds Skalský.