„In Belarus there has been no frontal violence against citizens for many years. Therefore, the EU canceled its economic sanctions. Especially for last two years the former Soviet republic began to converge with Europe again and it seemed that the rigid totalitarianism is finally getting weaker. As soon as the new mass protests appeared, the regime responded as it used to be common: by a brutal violence," Martin Skalský, the Head of NGO Arnika's Center for Citizens' Support says.
Tens of NGOs from around the world joined and signed a letter to support imprisoned activists and other oppressed citizens. Besides the release of unjustly convicted activists the letter requires a restorement of freedom of assembly, expression and to stop the practice of arbitrary detention of citizens by different police units.
„We believe that the solidarity from other countries helped a little to imprisoned activists," Skalsky believes. "It's however clear, that colleagues in Belarus will now find themselves in difficult conditions of work and will need a lot of support. Therefore Arnika launched an annual project to help local civic activists and use legal procedures for defending the people's right to live in a clean environment. The project is financed by the Program of Transformation Cooperation Czech Foreign Ministry. We will focus especially on rural regions, where the situation is much worse than in cities," Skalsky adds .