Poland accuses Belarus of human rights violations

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Monday, August 1, 2005

Belarus borders with Russia, Ukraine and 3 EU members: Latvia, Lithuania and Poland

Poland has called for the EU to assist curtailing what it has called human rights abuses in Belarus. Belarusian papers describe this as a 'dirty political game', and part of a 'cold war' waged on president Alexander Lukashenko.

The Belarusian Riot police with guns and dogs seized the headquarters of the Union of Poles in Belarus, an association representing the 400 thousand ethnic minority Polish people living in western areas of Belarus that were part of Poland until World War II.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International reported a "pattern of deliberate obstruction, harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders" in Belarus. Reporters Without Borders recently accused the Belarusian authorities of hounding and arresting journalists from the country's Polish minority. Lukashenko has recently closed the country's main Polish newspaper, printing a bogus paper instead with the same name that praised his regime. Lukashenko accused Poland of an attempt to overthrow his regime by stirring up a peaceful revolution in Belarus like the "orange revolution" in [[Ukraine last year.

The dispute between Poland and Belarus escalated further as Poland responded by recalling its ambassador from Belarus for indefinite consultations and called on the European Union to impose sanctions on the Belarusian leadership.

Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld said a clampdown is under way, aimed at destroying "all elements of political pluralism and independence" in Belarus. France expressed her solidarity with Poland on the issue of human rights in Belarus a day after the EU said it was worried about the situation in the country.

The European Union will finance radio and TV programs to be broadcasted to Belarus.