Polish parliament approves resolution condemning Lukashenko's Belarus regime for repression

The Canadian Press By The Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland - Polish lawmakers approved a resolution Friday condemning Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's regime for its repression of opponents following the December presidential election.

Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament demanded the immediate release of political prisoners and urged a halt to political repression in the country.

Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski also said Poland will maintain its policy of sanctions against Belarus' leaders, while showing "solidarity with the nation" as long as the repression continues.

"If prisoners are released, if conditions are created for the functioning of civic society, then an opportunity will arise for dialogue and a move closer to Europe," he said.

Lawmakers passed the resolution unanimously during a session attended by Belarusian pro-democracy activists and Alexander Milinkevich an opposition candidate in the 2006 presidential race.

The resolution says that it assures "everybody fighting for a democratic Belarus of our abiding solidarity and support."

Lukashenko won the Dec. 19 presidential election with nearly 80 per cent of the vote, a result widely regarded as fraudulent. Mass protests were violently dispersed by police and several opposition candidates arrested.

Poland has strongly supported the democratic opposition in neighbouring Belarus. Many of Poland's current leaders were members of the anti-communist Solidarity movement.

Parliament speaker Grzegorz Schetyna compared the Belarusian struggle for freedom to Poland's experience.

"We still remember how difficult it was to obtain (freedom) and what courage it takes ... how much sacrifice it takes in order to break the hypocrisy of a dictatorship, the manipulation of a totalitarian power and the oppression of a cheated society," Schetyna said.


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