UN HRC 48 – Interactive Dialogue on the interim oral update of OHCHR on Belarus – 24 September 2021 – Statement by Estonia to be delivered by H.E.Ambassador Katrin Saarsalu-Layachi

Madame President,

Estonia fully aligns with the statement delivered by the EU. We welcome the update of the OHCHR and express our strong support for the mandate.

Estonia remains seriously concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus. Lukashenka’s regime has continued and intensified its repression against the Belarusian people. A massive crackdown on human rights defenders, journalists and other media workers, as well as on political opponents and civil society organizations is continuing with impunity.

On 6 September, two political prisoners and Members of the Executive Board of the Coordination Council of Democratic Belarus, Ms Marya Kaliesnikava and Mr Maksim Znak, were sentenced to 11 and 10 years in prison respectively. There are over 650 political prisoners in Belarus.

We call on the Belarus authorities to release all political prisoners unconditionally without delay and without pressure of writing Clemency Petitions, otherwise the safety and well-being of the prisoner’s relatives and loved ones is threatened to be put at risk.

The Belarussian regime has begun to turn their domestic crisis into regional instability. They have weaponized migration by taking advantage of citizens in vulnerable situations from third countries to fuel illegal border crossings from Belarus to neighbouring EU member states.

The international community must consistently demand from Lukashenka´s regime: the international provocations and instrumentalisation of migrants and refugees must be stopped immediately, all perpetrators of the crimes must be brought to justice and punished, democratic elections must be held.

I thank you.