Canada Repeats Call for Release of Belarusian Opposition Leaders

(No. 408 – December 24, 2010 – 1:45 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement on the post-election situation in Belarus:

“Canada deplores the ongoing arbitrary detention of prominent opposition leaders in Belarus and demands their immediate release, as well as the release of other demonstrators who have been unjustly arrested, detained or convicted.

“I have instructed senior departmental officials to call in Belarus’s Chargé d’Affaires in Canada to convey this demand and express Canada’s deep disappointment with the conduct of the Government of Belarus.

“Canada has issued a clear and forceful message that we condemn the violence used against the demonstrators, in particular the beating and detention of many of the opposition leaders.

“I am profoundly concerned about the security and well-being of the detained opposition leaders, in particular that of Vladimir Neklyayev, whose condition is unknown.

“We are witnessing a step backwards in Belarus, and I strongly urge the authorities to change direction and to uphold democratic principles, respect for human rights and the rule of law. Canada remains deeply concerned that an oppressive regime continues to hold power in Belarus. The people of Belarus deserve to have their voices heard without fear of violent retribution.”

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Melissa Lantsman
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874
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