Foreign Minister Liimets: events in Belarus threaten the stability of our region

On Friday 8 October, Estonia called an informal high-level virtual meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss Belarus. The meeting focused on the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus.

The Council has addressed concerns related to Belarus on several occasions. “Unfortunately we are seeing human rights deteriorating in the country and increasing repressions against Belarusian human rights activists, journalists and civil society organisations. It is extremely worrying that whereas in January we were speaking about 170 political prisoners, the number now exceeds 700,” Foreign Minister Liimets said. “The largest independent union of journalists, the Belarusian Association of Journalists, has been shut down, and access to internet has been blocked.”

“The hijacking of an international flight in May challenged the safety of civilian aviation and violated international law, sparking widespread condemnation. Both this and how migrants are driven into neighbouring countries by force by the Belarusian authorities have a wider impact on international peace and security, which is why it is crucial to discuss this topic at the Security Council,” Estonian Ambassador Sven Jürgenson added.

More than 35 000 people have been detained and sentenced. Nearly 5000 of them have reported torture and abuse at the hands of Belarusian authorities. More than 13 000 people have been forced to flee the country.

The International Accountability Platform for Belarus was founded in March this year to collect and preserve evidence of human rights violations in Belarus. “Estonia has supported the launch of this important initiative as a contributor. Jens Modvig, the head of this platform, was among the notable speakers at today’s event, giving an overview of the information the association has collected,” Liimets said. “The objective of the platform is to collect water-tight evidence for the future on the abuse and torture of opposition activists. Therefore, their prompt action is crucial for establishing the truth and holding human rights violators to account.”

In her statement, Foreign Minister Liimets called on Belarus to stop the violence and for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners. She added that the international community must remain focused on the situation until the people of Belarus can truly exercise their rights and freedoms.

The meeting had a historic number of co-sponsors – 32 countries from five continents: UN Security Council members Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, and additional co-sponsors Albania, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, North-Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.

A total of 39 representatives of UN member states made statements, including 14 countries at the foreign minister or deputy minister level.

The event can be watched on the Foreign Ministry’s YouTube channel.

Estonia’s statement in full

Photos (Marko Mumm)