Belarusian authorities must carry out a full investigation into the murder of Raman Bandarenka; a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ethiopia must be reached; and Algeria must release detained journalist Mohamed Khaled Drareni were the sense of the three resolutions adopted by the European Parliament on 26 November 2020.
The European Parliament condemned in the strongest possible terms the murder of Raman Bandarenka in Belarus, and expressed its condolences to his family and to all families who have lost loved ones as a result of the repression of Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s regime. Mr Bandarenka, a 31-year-old art teacher, was brutally beaten on the evening of 11 November by a group of plain-clothed men in masks who reportedly had close ties to the regime. Mr Bandarenka was taken into detention where he was subjected to further beatings. He later died as a result of his injuries.
MEPs demanded prompt, thorough, and independent investigations into his death and the protest-related deaths of other Belarusian civilians. They reiterated their support for the protesters’ demands for freedom, democracy, dignity, and the right to choose their own destiny, while condemning the ongoing human rights violations, intimidation, and disproportionate use of force by the authorities towards peaceful demonstrators.
Additionally, MEPs were deeply concerned by the current armed conflict between the federal government of Ethiopia and the regional administration of Tigray led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), including the ongoing violence and allegations of serious breaches of fundamental human rights. They called on both parties to commit to an immediate ceasefire and to settle political differences by democratic means within the framework of the country’s constitution. The resolution deplored the loss of life and killing of innocent civilians and the extrajudicial killings, regardless of their perpetrators. Parliament implored Ethiopia’s central government and the TPLF to take immediate action to deescalate the conflict and criticised the severe restrictions preventing humanitarian workers from accessing the area.
Finally, the Parliament strongly condemned the escalation of arbitrary and unlawful arrests, detentions, and judicial harassment of journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists, lawyers, civil society, and peaceful activists in Algeria. It also urged the Algerian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release journalist Mohamed Khaled Drareni and all those detained and charged for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
In August, Mr Drareni – a correspondent for TV5 Monde – was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 50 000 Algerian dinars for filming police attacking demonstrators in Algiers. He was formally charged with ‘inciting an unarmed gathering’ and ‘undermining the integrity of national territory’. In September, his sentence was reduced to two years on appeal.
MEPs reiterated their call on the Algerian authorities to stop all forms of intimidation, criminalisation, or the arbitrary detention of critical voices such as journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders. They insisted that appropriate steps be taken to guarantee for all the right to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.