NEW YORK, Oct. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- NGOs are raising awareness of the human rights crisis in Belarus as the EU is to review and possibly extend targeted sanctions against the country known as the "Europe's last dictatorship" in October.
"Despite repeated calls on the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko to restore democratic institutions in the country, the human rights situation there is getting worse. Political prisoners are still being held hostage and there is complete lack of any political competition," says Dima Shehigelsky, director of Belarusians in Exile (BiE), a New York-based non-profit organization.
"This summer, on President Lukashenko's birthday, we published a cartoon with faces of political prisoners, urging the dictator to release them. Several months later, there are more political prisoners and situation has gotten worse. It is clear that the time for cartoons is over and that the media and political pressure will not work on Lukashenko, so we urge the EU to extend sanctions against the main state-owned companies that trade with the EU members and bring the most revenue for the regime," says Shehigelsky.
The "Happy Birthday Lukashenko" cartoon is part of the specially commissioned cartoons series published by Belarusians in Exile that hopes to prompt the international community to step up sanctions against the Lukashenko regime, which still receives vast infusions of cash from West European companies despite legislation by the EU to restrict business that benefits the dictator. The cartoons are released under Creative Commons and are free to use for the media and bloggers alike. This and other cartoons from the series are available from the BiE website, http://www.belarusiansinexile.org/cartoons/.
SOURCE Belarusians in Exile