No shameful silence

by E.L.

WHAT to do about Belarus, where scores of opposition people are in detention, some of them unseen since arrest, and facing bogus charges of hooliganism? Some luminaries of the human-rights world have been doing their bit: reading out the names of those in jail, for broadcast on the Belarusian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. They include former President George Bush, Czech and Polish foreign ministers Karel Schwarzenberg, and Radek Sikorski, Vaclav Havel, and others. Listen to their broadcast [link in Belarusian, but now is a good time to learn it, or else use Google Translate]. And give thanks for your own freedom.

Without wishing to sound churlish, the lack of other voices is getting rather conspicuous. Carl Bildt and Guido Westerwelle co-signed an oped with Sikorski and Schwarzenberg. But what about Britain, France, Slovakia, Georgia? Or the Baltic states?

However, the White House has issued this statement about the sentencing for 15 days of the Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, on similarly ludicrous charges.

Statement from Mike Hammer, NSC Spokesman

The White Hous January 3, 2011

Months ago, we were pleased that the Moscow authorities reversed their previous policy and decided to allow peaceful demonstrations on the 31st of every other month. Therefore, we were surprised to learn that some of these demonstrators were arrested on December 31st, and in the case of Boris Nemtsov and some others, given long sentences for what seemed to be an exercise of their constitutional rights.

President Obama met with Boris Nemtsov in Moscow in July 2009 and continues to admire his work in promoting democratic development in Russia.

At the time of writing (2300 UK Time) I can't see it on the White House website. However the New York Times is reporting it, as is RIA Novosti. So it must be true. What price the "reset" now?


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