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Europe really can... give the People of Belarus a Voice! It’s time to react!

JEF-Europe Press Release

, by JEF-Europe

On the night of the 18th - 19th March 2008, the Young European Federalists (JEF Europe) will take to the streets in protest against Lukashenko’s Belarus regime. For the third conservative year, JEF Europe activists across the continent and the world will gag statues - symbolically preventing them from speaking freely - much like the current situation for many Belarusian citizens and leaders of democracy and oppositions movements.

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“European leaders may fail to take the lead in addressing issues of human rights and democracy in Belarus, but European youth will not be silenced!” affirmed Samuele Pii, President JEF Europe. “Through this action we demonstrate that European youth is united in solidarity with the people of Belarus, giving them a hope for the future. JEF Europe will continue to defend freedom of speech and condemn all signs of oppression and violence until the last European dictatorship falls!” Pii continued.

With the slogan, “Europe, Give the People of Belarus a Voice!” the 2008 action will focus on Europe’s responsibility to act as one, in defence of human rights and democracy in Belarus. Activists will gag statues using EU flags, as a provocative message to EU leaders.

“It’s time for Europe to act! Sanctions and travel bans alone will not bring democracy to Belarus” declared Toni Giugliano, Vice President JEF Europe and Action Co-ordinator. “This year’s action will remind our leaders that as immediate neighbours, the EU has the direct responsibility to react in defence of the Belarusian people. Europe really can, give the people of Belarus a voice” continued Toni Giugliano. The date of the action coincides with the Belarus presidential elections of 2006, whereby Lukashenko declared victory with 82% of the vote. All youth organisations across Europe and the world who believe in the values of democracy and respect for human rights are invited to participate.

WHAT: Youth takes to the streets to gag statues using EU flags and with banners saying: “Europe, Give the People of Belarus a Voice!” WHY: In protest against Europe’s last dictatorship; in defence of human rights & democracy. WHERE: Simultaneously in cities across Europe and the world. WHEN: On the night of March 18-19 2008 - the anniversary of Lukashenko’s condemned election victory. WHO: Young European Federalists (JEF Europe) along with other youth NGOs.

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Image: Belarus action 2007 in Florence, Italy; source: JEF-Europe Photo Gallery

Further information:

* In 2007 activists participated in:

Aalborg, Århus, Barcelona, Berlin, Bern, Boston, Bialystok, Bordeaux, Brussels, Chemnitz, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Florence,Freiburg, Gdansk, Gorzow, Gothenburg, Helsinki, Jena, Kiev, Komotini, Lviv, Ljubljana, Löwen, Lund, Lisbon, Madrid, Matosinhos,Nancy, Nis, Odense, Oulu, Paris, Podgorica, Porto, Poznan, Prague, Pristine, Riga, Sarajevo, Sofia, Stockholm, Strasbourg, Varna, Vilnius, Wageningen, Warsaw, Wielkoposki, Wrclaw, York, Zagreb.

* All photos from this year’s action will be published immediately on www.jef.eu Pictures of the 2006 and 2007 actions can also be found there.

For further information and updated lists of participating cities, contact:

Toni Giugliano Vice President JEF Europe & Action Co-ordinator +44 (0)7756663312 belarus@jef.eu or toni.giugliano@jef.eu

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