Fasel ignores mass arrests of oppositionists during World Championship in Minsk
18:59, — Politics
The IIHF president René Fasel believes that crackdown during the championship is not politics.
“I do not have any relation to the crackdown,” BelaPAN was told by President of the International Ice Hockey Federation, who commented on the recent statement by the leader of the civil campaign “European Belarus”, presidential candidate in the vote of 2010, and a former political prisoner Andrei Sannikov.
At a press-conference in Warsaw on May 12 the politician criticized the leadership of the IIHF and its president in connection with the escalated crackdown on opposition ahead of the world championship in Minsk, which manifested itself in preventive arrests of dozens of activists.
“Crackdown has started with renewed vigour, especially relating to the ice hockey world championship. In addition to 9 political prisoners, 32 more persons were thrown into prison,” Sannikov stated. “Today one cannot stop thinking about Zmitser Dashkevich, who had been released recently and was sent into prison for nothing again; about Alyaksandr Frantskevich, a former political prisoner, who was flinged behind the bars again, about Maxim Vinyarski, who was on hunger strike for 12 days, including a waterless hunger strike as well. One can also recall that MEP Marek Migalski, who insisted that the Championship was to be held in another country, was denied entry to Belarus. This initiative was supported by many politicians, public leaders, actors, human rights defenders. All of them addressed personally to the head of the International Ice Hockey Federation. Today the direct responsibility of the IIHF and its chairman Rene Fasel for what is going on in Belarus should be confirmed. It is quite obvious that all recent events are directly related to holding the championship in Minsk.”
“Such statements are silliness,” Fasel said. “Hockey is aimed at uniting people. Thousands of fans gather in the stadiums. The championship is broadcast by dozens of TV companies, its audience reaches a billion viewers.”
Website charter97.org has asked Andrei Sannikov to comment on these words of Rene Fasel:
“I would recommend the IIHF President Rene Fasel to ask Vinyarski, Dashkevich, Franskevich, Rubtsou, Kulakou, dozens of other oppositional activists, as well as hundreds of Belarus’ citizens who are staying in Akrestsin Street prison today, and in other prisons, as well as 9 political prisoners, who undergo humiliating treatment and torture in punishment cells and isolation cells, whether the crackdown is related to the Ice Hockey World championship.
I would like to remind that I had written about these very repressions in my open letter to Mr Fasel, and received no answer. He can continue to pretend that sport has nothing to do with politics, but he has made exactly a political gift to the dictator, and inflicted a serious harm to health of hundreds of Belarusians, who have been thrown into prisons, and he must understand that he is to answer for such decisions. I would like to stress my conviction that international sports federations do not have a right to hold high level competitions in dictatorships, and in case such decisions are adopted, they are to undertake obligations to help all the political prisoners persecuted in connection with these competitions,” the leader of “European Belarus” stated.
International human rights organisations and deputies of the European Parliament on many occasions called upon the Federation and Mr Fasel to hold the championship in another country because of numerous human rights violations in Belarus. The IIHF President unalterably answered to that that sports is outside politics.
A concern over the arrests of opposition activists during the hockey championship in Minsk has been recently expressed by the European Union in a special statement.
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