Statement at the 45th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Urgent debate on Belarus
We have watched with horror as riot police and law enforcement agencies have used brutal means to curtail peaceful protests in Belarus following disputed elections in August. More than 7,000 protesters have been arrested and more than 200 injured as the authorities use flash grenades, rubber bullets and in a few instances live ammunition against the peaceful protesters. Some detainees have reported torture. At least two people have died – one in police custody.
We are deeply concerned that the authorities are also targeting journalists and media outlets to prevent the media from reporting on the protests and the violent response by the authorities. More than fifty journalists have been arrested in the different regions of the country; some have had their accreditation revoked. The authorities continue to censor media outlets. Protesters and human rights defenders have been subjected to smear campaigns.
We are extremely concerned that despite the atrocities committed by the security forces, none have been investigated or held accountable for their actions while journalists and peaceful protesters have been wrongfully accused of attempting to destabilize Belarus. We stand in solidarity with human rights defenders, journalists and all those who seek to hold perpetrators of violence to account in the face of violence and suppression.
In light of this, Madame President, we welcome this urgent debate, and we call on the Council to use its prevention mandate by acting strongly now, before the situation deteriorates still further. We urge the Council to support a strong Resolution that strongly condemns the human rights violations and calls for international scrutiny with a view to furthering accountability.
The people of Belarus have a right to speak out without risking death and torture.
Civic space in Belarus is rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor