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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2003 > October
Press Statement
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 30, 2003


Belarus Court Order Closing Non-Governmental Organization Vyasna

2003/1106

The United States is deeply concerned about the ongoing repression of civil society in Belarus, particularly the Belarusian government’s assault on independent non-governmental organizations and media.

On October 28, the Supreme Court of Belarus closed Vyasna, a human rights center and one of Belarus' most respected and active non-governmental organizations that provided legal advice, monitored elections, and reported on human rights concerns. The trial proceedings made it clear that the decision to close Vyasna had been determined before the trial even began. When asked by the judge, the prosecutor was unable to cite which law Vyasna had violated. Nevertheless, the court closed Vyasna on the pretext that the Ministry of Justice had issued a violation to Vyasna during its observation of Belarus’ 2001 presidential elections.

The action against Vyasna is the latest in a series of closures of organizations and media outlets that call into question the sincerity of the Belarusian authorities in wanting to develop a democratic society and improve relations with the trans-Atlantic community. We urge Belarus to cease its attacks on non-governmental organizations and the media and to permit the reopening of those organizations that have been closed on spurious grounds.


Released on October 30, 2003

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