Democracies rely on the idea that citizens have the right to elect their leaders. After presidential elections in Belarus were marred by electoral fraud, imprisonments, and repressions, citizens went to peaceful protests to demand an accurate and transparent recount. The use of rubber bullets, stun grenades, tear gas, excessive force is not a proportionate reaction to a peaceful desire of citizens to participate in deciding the future of their country. Neither is the imprisonment of political opponents, journalists, and citizens without a due and fair process.

In Central Europe, we learned through our own tumultuous experience the importance of democracy, the dangers of authoritarianism, and the power of people to bring change through a peaceful expression of their will in the most difficult of circumstances. We speak with one voice with those who support the principles of respect to human rights and democracy worldwide.

We call on President Lukashenko to respect the fundamental principles of democracy, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly. The disproportional use of force and violence against citizens is not acceptable in democratic societies.