Human rights lawyers condemn Belarus hijacking as “state terrorism”


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Human rights lawyers condemn Belarus hijacking as “state terrorism”



The Institute of Human Rights of the International Bar Association (IBAHRI) condemned Belarusian authorities’ forcible hijacking of flight carrying dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich as a “reckless and heinous act of state terrorism”.

Mr. Pratasevich was arrested after his Ryanair The flight from Greece to Lithuania was forced to land in Belarus after its authorities claimed to have received a bomb threat and sent a MiG-29 fighter jet to escort the civilian flight to Minsk.

The plane was closer to Vilnius than to Minsk at the time of the hijacking, and Belarus has so far failed to provide evidence of the alleged bomb threat.

Mr. Pratasevich is considered a terrorist by Belarusian authorities due to his former role as editor-in-chief of FOLLOWING, a major online platform for the Belarusian democratic movement that has been banned as an extremist organization following the eruption of protests against President Alexander Lukashenko.

He is accused of “flagrant violation of public order” and “incitement to mass riots” and “social hatred” against the police, for which he could face a long prison sentence or potentially. the death penalty.

Anne Ramberg, co-president of IBAHRI and former secretary general of the Swedish Bar Association, said: “The politically motivated hijacking of an airliner to Minsk, under cover of a bomb threat, was a reckless and heinous act of state terrorism aimed at arresting Raman Pratasevich by all the necessary means. IBAHRI calls for the immediate release of Mr. Pratasevich and his partner Ms. Sapega.

She added: “The forcible repatriation of Mr. Pratasevich reveals how far the Lukashenko administration will go without restriction to silence opposition voices and undermine fundamental freedoms of the media and expression.

“The deterioration of the Belarusian media landscape is reprehensible. The baseless accusations of extremism leveled against Mr. Pratasevich and the threat of capital punishment if convicted are incredibly worrying.

“IBAHRI unequivocally condemns the actions of the Belarusian authorities and welcomes the swift and unanimous action taken so far by the European Union. Nations that behave in such behavior must not think that they can do so with impunity and in total disregard of the international laws to which they are bound.

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Thelma J. Longworth

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