PES leaders deeply concerned by the news of Ihar Barysau arrest in Belarus
The leadership of the Party of European Socialists is deeply concerned about reports that Ihar Barysau, leader of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (BSDP), has been arrested.
Barysau was travelling home with his wife and children earlier today when their car was stopped, and he was detained by masked men dressed in black.
Earlier this month, BSDP leader Barysaŭ had applied, alongside two other opposition organisations, for permission to host a public meeting on 25 March - Belarus' Freedom Day. Authorities have accused the opposition of preparing provocations. Opposition parties have been bracing for a wave of arrests, in a further attempt by the regime to suppress them.
The PES, together with prime ministers Antonio Costa, Stefan Lofven, Pedro Sanchez and S&D chair Iratxe Garcia, condemns these political arrests and calls on Belarusian authorities to release Ihar Barysau and other political prisoners immediately. We remain very concerned for the safety of Barysaŭ and other opposition figures.
Ihar Barysau, like so many others, is working for a democratic and just Belarus. His attempts to move that ambition forward through peaceful demonstrations have been met by government force. Sadly, this is yet another sign that this anti-democratic regime will do anything to suppress opposition.
We believe the Belarusian people must have an opportunity to choose their own future through free and fair elections. We stand with Ihar Barysau and the Belarusian Social Democratic Party in their fight for democracy. We will continue to closely follow developments in the country.