March 18, 1997

We, the participants of the Belarusian Assembly of Democratic NGO's, state the following (based on Section 2.3 of the resolution governing coordination of the activities of Belarusian non-governmental organisations, adopted on February†22 by representatives of 250 local NGO's, which makes provision to "defend the rights of non-governmental organisations, and represent the Assembly within the confines of resolutions it has adopted") :

On March 16, 1997, unknown Belarusian "competent bodies" refused Belarusian Soros Foundation executive director Peter Byrne entry into the Republic of Belarus. The following day, he was deported from the country without any convincing legal grounds for such a decision.

We consider these actions by the Belarusian authorities to be a gross violation of Human Rights and a complete contravention of international and national legal standards.

This action was not only directed against the Soros Foundation, a Belarusian charitable organisation which has been providing large amounts of non-refundable assistance to scientists, doctors, teachers, and journalists for four years, and has helped implement civil initiatives and build institutions. The action is also a challenge to the whole of the republicís non-governmental sector, and is on the same level as recent illegal actions committed by the regime in power which are turning Belarus into a sanctuary for totalitarian dictatorship in the very centre of Europe.

We are demanding that the Belarusian authorities undertake immediate measures to restore justice and the law by granting the Belarusian Soros Foundationís executive director Peter Byrne the right to enter the territory of the Republic of Belarus.

We are appealing to international organisations, legal defence organisations, and the general public to exert pressure on the Belarusian government in order to restore laws and justice which have been trampled upon.

The members of the Belarusian Assembly
of Democratic NGO's

(Approximately 400 signatures have been gathered in support of this statement)

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