Hillary asks Belarus to put an end to crackdown

US has slammed Belarus for carrying out repressive acts against the Opposition, media and civil society.

Updated: Jan 07, 2011, 13:45 PM IST

Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed Belarus for carrying out repressive acts against the opposition, media and civil society following a disputed presidential election last month.

Clinton met Belarusian and Belarusian-American human rights activists to discuss recent events in the country and urged Minsk to end the acts of repression. The Secretary of State condemned the conduct of Belarus`s presidential election and the crackdown on political leaders and activists, civil society representatives and journalists.

"She stressed her concern for detainees and for their family members, noting the US Embassy in Minsk`s efforts to remain in close contact with them," State Department spokesman P J Crowley said.

The US and the European Union have issued two joint statements condemning the violence and calling for the immediate release of all who are detained. Clinton, during the meeting repeated this appeal and urged an end to the crackdown.
Belarus has also ordered the closure of European Union`s watchdog -- the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) office in Minsk -- after it criticised the handling of the country`s presidential polls.

Clinton told the activists that the US is watching the government`s actions closely and considering a response to those actions.
The United States will continue its support for and engagement with the people of Belarus, Crowley said.

"We`re trying to show our engagement. We are concerned about the situation in Belarus and we`re going to stay engaged on this issue.

"We would just send a clear message that these individuals have the right to meet with whoever they choose to," State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at a news conference earlier.