27.06.2012 / 12:40

Lloyd: In Hockey You Get Five Minutes for Fighting, in Belarus Five Years for Peaceful Protest

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly recommends moving 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship away from Belarus.

More than 60 lawmakers representing 21 countries have co-sponsored a draft resolution that recommends moving the 2014 World Ice Hockey Championship from Belarus to a different country unless the Belarusian authorities release all political prisoners.

The document is to be considered at the Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on July 59.

The draft resolution calls on Belarus to release and exonerate all political prisoners and respect the rule of law, media freedom and freedom of movement, according to the Assembly's press office.

It would urge the Belarusian authorities to stop harassing and persecuting trade unions, journalists and human rights defenders, suspend the house arrest imposed on former political prisoners, allow an international investigation into allegations of torture in prisons, allow OSCE Parliamentary Assembly representatives to visit political prisoners, and reconsider applications of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party and a human rights group called Vyasna, which have been denied registration "without due cause."

In hockey you get five minutes for fighting, in Belarus you get five years for peaceful protest,

said British MP Tony Lloyd.

As countries are toughening sanctions on Belarus, the last thing we should do is undercut those efforts by rewarding Minsk's repressive behavior with an international event and all the revenue that would come with it.