Havel, others condemn presidential election in Belarus, call on Alexander Lukashenko to resign

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel and other human rights advocates in the Czech Republic on Tuesday condemned the use of force against pro-democracy demonstrators protesting the re-election of authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

"We call on President Alexander Lukashenko to resign," said a letter from the International Association Civic Belarus that Havel delivered to the Belarusian embassy Tuesday.

The group, established by Havel last year to support pro-democracy initiatives and organizations in Belarus , said the recent presidential election in Belarus was a fraud.

The letter, signed by dozens of activists including several Czech lawmakers, also demands the immediate release of those who were arrested protesting the March 19 election, in which officials say Lukashenko won a third term with 83 percent of the vote.

Thousands of demonstrators clashed with riot police in Minsk Saturday. Opposition leader Alexander Kozulin was among those arrested.

The European Union and the United States have condemned the presidential election as unfair and announced that they would impose sanctions on Lukashenko.

In the letter, the organization warned Belarusian authorities that they will be held accountable by the international community, and called on journalists, artists and others to challenge what it said were lies spread by the Lukashenko regime about the West and "demand a thorough investigation of the events that recently took place in Minsk."

It also expressed a wish for the people of Belarus "to overcome their fear and insist on their basic rights to live free in a democratic country ruled by law."

Havel was not allowed to hand over the letter to embassy officials and had to put it into the embassy's mail box, his aide Jakub Hladik said. The embassy declined to comment. Havel has repeatedly expressed support for human rights activists all around the world and lambasted Belarus ' government as the last undemocratic regime in Europe , reports the AP.


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