Clinton Calls for ‘Unconditional Release’ of Political Prisoners in Belarus

Posted December 6th, 2011 at 1:45 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has demanded the unconditional release of all political prisoners in Belarus and denounced Minsk for persecuting democracy campaigners.

Speaking before the Belarus Civil Society Roundtable in Lithuania Tuesday, Clinton told a group of seven Belarusian activists that the United States will continue working to obtain freedom for about 50 people still in prison or under some form of restricted release.

“We will continue along with our partners in the European Union and other democracies to take actions against the Lukashenko regime, including sanctions and travel bans.''

She said the United States recognizes this has been a “brutally difficult” year for the people of Belarus. She added that until the government takes concrete steps to improve human rights and the conditions for democracy, Belarus will not have improved relations with the United States.

Secretary Clinton's comments came on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where she also criticized Russia for flawed elections. She said countries that fail to stem rights abuses “undermine the people's confidence in their governments.”

The government of Belarus is under U.S. and European Union sanctions for cracking down on opposition and government critics, especially in the aftermath of the disputed December 2010 re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko. Observers said that vote failed to meet international standards.