UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL – Oral update by the UN High Commissioner on Belarus – 4 December 2020 – Estonian Intervention

Madame President,

Estonia thanks the UN High Commissioner for her update on the human rights situation in Belarus.

Every Sunday, for nearly four months now, we are waiting with bated breath for news from Belarus. We are feeling solidarity with the brave protesters who stand for their rights and values and for the democratic future of their country, the Republic of Belarus. We condemn the use of violence against peaceful protesters.

Seventy-seven days have passed since the resolution on the situation of human rights in Belarus was adopted. It would have been more pleasant for us today to discuss practical issues related to providing technical advice and support to Belarus in holding their first free and fair elections in the 21st century. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

The situation in Belarus continues to deteriorate. The violent crackdowns by the authorities of Belarus on peaceful protesters continue and have in fact intensified.

We reiterate our repeated requests to immediately and unconditionally release all arbitrarily detained persons, including political prisoners, and hold perpetrators to account.

There is no indication that the authorities are investigating the thousands of reports of police brutality filed since mid-August or the killings of protesters, including, most recently, 31-year-old Raman Bandarenka.

Those who tell the truth to the public – journalists and bloggers – have become targets of the government’s repressions as well. Since August 2020, the Belarusian Association of Journalists has recorded around 400 detentions of journalists, 77 were serving their arrest, 8 have become subject to criminal cases, 73 independent media outlets were blocked. Regular internet shutdowns continued during mass protests.

Just as the people of Belarus do not tire of standing up for their basic human rights and resisting violence, the international community must maintain its focus on what is going on in Belarus, monitor the situation closely and take action. We collectively have to ensure that the Belarusian people are given a voice. We have to keep on raising the issue in every possible fora.

Estonia together with Belgium, Germany, France and the United Kingdom raised the report under the OSCE Moscow Mechanism on Belarus in the UN Security Council on 11 November. The report provided us with evidence of the falsification of elections and the widespread violation of the human rights of peaceful protesters.

Madame High Commissioner,

It was declared that the professors, lecturers, teachers and students who joined the protests should be dismissed from universities, and these students needed to be sent to the military service. Can you elaborate more on the topic?

I thank you.