AOB on Belarus was requested by Estonia, Belgium, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Two months have passed since we discussed the worrying situation in Belarus at the Arria format. Unfortunately, the situation has not improved since then. On the contrary, violence has grown, we have learned about several new cases of torture, enforced disappearances, sexual violence, and other forms of horror and humiliation. The Belarusian authorities are speaking to their people in the language of repressions.
In September, Estonia among the 17 OSCE participating countries, proposed the creation of an independent expert mission under the OSCE Moscow Mechanism to investigate human rights violations and election fraud in Belarus. An independent report by Rapporteur Wolfgang Benedek, a professor of international law, was presented at the Permanent Council of the OSCE on 5th of November. It provided evidence that the presidential elections were not transparent, free and fair. The report also proved that the authorities of Belarus have used excess violence, and confirmed their involvement in torture, mistreatment and enforced disappearances. It has also drawn attention to continued attacks on the freedom of the press and the intimidation of women activists with the threat of removal of their children.
The authorities of Belarus cannot ignore such substantial proof. Our position is clear –we do not recognize their falsified results. On this basis, the so-called ‘inauguration’ (of 23 September) and the mandate claimed by Aleksandr Lukashenko lack any democratic legitimacy. We call on the authorities of Belarus to cancel the results of the presidential elections of 9 August and bring the electoral law into conformity with international standards. The only solution is free and fair elections under the OSCE/ODIHR’s supervision.
We strongly condemn continued violence against peaceful protesters and torture of detainees. UN human rights experts have repeatedly called for an end to the torture of detainees. We recall that Belarus is a party to the UN Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and thereby has taken on binding obligations under these instruments. The authorities of Belarus must immediately and unconditionally release all arbitrarily detained persons, including political prisoners and hold perpetrators to account.
We are deeply concerned about the widespread violation of the human rights of opposition activists, journalists and civil society and ongoing repressions against a free media, including revoking foreign media workers accreditation, limiting access to internet and blocking independent media websites.
I expresses solidarity with the UK, as Belarus has recently for unjustified reasons expelled 2 of their diplomats from Minsk for their legitimate diplomatic activities. Last month Poland and Lithuania were asked to considerably cut their diplomatic staff in Belarus. Such pressure from the authorities on diplomatic missions is regrettable.
We are also very disappointed by the refusal of the Belarusian authorities to engage with the UN Special Rapporteur Anais as well as with the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Rama and the OSCE Moscow Mechanism Rapporteur Benedek. We urge the Belarusian authorities to reconsider their approach, and commence immediately full cooperation.
Estonia fully supports sanctions on the individuals imposed by EU in relation to the violent repression and intimidation of peaceful demonstrators, opposition members and journalists after the 2020 presidential election in Belarus.
The crisis in Belarus can be resolved only through peaceful and inclusive national dialogue and responding positively to the demands of the Belarusian people for new democratic elections. We continue to keep a close eye on the developments in Belarus and insist that the Security Council will remain seized of the matter, if the developments on the ground so require.