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Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Urmas Reinsalu at UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on Human Rights in Belarus

4. September 2020 - 19:53

Allow me now to make a statement in my national capacity.

We are following events in Belarus with deep concern and sadness.

Political persecution in Belarus started months before the 9th of August election day. After forged elections, the people went to the streets to demand new and fair elections peacefully.

The authorities responded with unprecedented brutality and mass violence. We have learned about massive torture, enforced disappearances, rape, and other forms of horror and humiliation. These are crimes against peaceful protesters.

Human rights organisations say that almost every detainee has reported a disproportionate use of force and a denial of the opportunity to report their whereabouts to relatives or a lawyer.

To this day, the fate of many is unknown. UN human rights experts called this week for an end to torturing detainees. They fear that cases of enforced disappearance may proliferate, should the heavy-handed response to peaceful protests continue.

Last weekend’s news of the withdrawal of accreditation of foreign media outlets show how important it is to share information about what is happening in Belarus. The continued targeting of journalists through arrests and revoking accreditation, the blocking of independent media websites and internet shutdowns are an alarming reality. It makes it even more urgent to provide a platform and listen to those whose voices are being silenced.

I, and I assume many of you, have received countless pleas for help from the Belarusian diaspora. The Belarusian authorities must stop the violence and threats to use military force against peaceful protesters. The authorities must ensure an immediate and unconditional release of all those detained unlawfully. Intimidation and prosecution based on political grounds has to end. The prohibition against torture is absolute under international human rights law and cannot be justified under any circumstances.

There is a need for a complete and transparent investigation of all abuses in order to hold those responsible to account. Only this will create the conditions for a peaceful and inclusive political dialogue nationally.

The future of Belarus is in the hands of the people of Belarus.

The Coordination Council, which consists of representatives of different parts of the society, could be instrumental in paving the way for a genuine and inclusive national dialogue. Unfortunately, the authorities have opened a criminal case against the Coordination Council, and have intimidated and detained its members. There can be no national dialogue when one side is under arrest and when civil society is being repressed.

The people of Belarus have the right to determine their own future. I express solidarity with the people of Belarus in their desire to exercise their fundamental democratic rights.

Dear colleagues, distinguished ministers, briefers and Ambassadors,

It is too often that we witness moments of stalemate between the people and dictators. And we have seen what happens when free and fair elections fail and when the legitimate grievances of people are not met. That is why the UN Security Council has often made calls for free and fair elections.

Examples from history show that early action can play a positive role in preventing bloodshed and steering both sides toward a peaceful outcome. History also demonstrates that keeping our voices down sends a signal to perpetrators to keep doing what they are doing.

This is why Estonia has imposed sanctions on Belarusian officials who have had a central role in falsifying election results and using violence against peaceful protesters.

With today's meeting, we make it loud and clear: we are closely following the grave human rights violations in Belarus. This Council shall remain engaged with the situation and receive updates if the developments so require.

Let me fullheartedly support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Belarus.

Dear Belarusians, Estonia and all freedom-loving people stand in solidarity with you and we admire your peaceful resolve. We support peaceful democratic dialogue, transition and free and fair elections.

Vaclav Havel has rightly said that “truth and love will overcome lies and hatred.” Democratic legitimacy will never rise from fraud and falsification. Thus let us speak up for and let us not lose interest in the suffering of the Belarusian people.

Thank you!

Veel uudiseid samal teemal

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