NEW YORK, March 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Belarusians living in New York and London celebrated the Freedom Day this week by rallying against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. During the rallies that took place near the United Nations building in New York and on the Parliament Square in London, the campaigners called for the release of political prisoners that are being held in Belarus. They also called for banning trade with the state-owned Belarusian companies that finance the regime. Belarusians in Exile, a nonprofit organization that aims to restore democratic institutions in Belarus, supported the rallies.
People brought portraits of the political prisoners and lit hundreds of candles commemorating those who are still in Belarusian prisons. "It's startling that Alexander Lukashenko is taking political prisoners and then is negotiating with the EU and the US using them as hostages. He releases some prisoners and gets some concessions. We are here to demand from the US Government to expand sanctions against Belarus and stop financing the Lukashenko regime," said BiE spokesman Ilya Lushnikov, who took part in the New York demonstration.
President Lukashenko's authoritarian 19-year rule has already led to sanctions by EU and US governments. However, volume of trade between Belarus and the EU countries almost doubled in the last 10 years and over 50% of Belarusian GDP comes from exporting oil, potash, heavy machinery and chemical products. BiE and other human rights organizations and think tanks issued letters to the EU External Action Service and the US Treasury to expand the list of sanctioned companies and individuals from Belarus.
"March 25 is the Freedom day in Belarus. We hope that 13 political prisoners that are being held in Belarus will be able to celebrate the next Freedom day with their families. We hope for support from the government and from the public to put pressure on Lukashenko so that he releases political prisoners and restores democratic institutions in the country," said Lushnikov during the rally.Belarusians in Exile is a New York-based human rights organization supporting democracy in Belarus and around the world. Ilya Lushnikov www.Belarusiansinexile.org email@example.com +1 (646) 583-2525 SOURCE Belarusians in Exile