48th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Item 4: Interactive dialogue on the interim oral update of the OHCHR on the situation of human rights in Belarus
- 24 September 2021
24 September 2021
I speak on behalf of my Belarusian colleagues on the ground who can no longer speak publicly in this forum without being subjected to reprisals by the Belarusian government.
[One year after the presidential elections in Belarus], we are deeply concerned that the repeated signals sent by the international community, and this Council in particular, continue to be ignored by the Belarusian authorities.
We strongly condemn the escalation of attacks over the summer against well-established organizations, such as the [Human Rights Center] Viasna, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee or the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) and many others, which risked eviscerating the last independent civil society actors in Belarus. They have long documented human rights violations independently, and reported them at the local, regional and international level, including before UN bodies and mechanisms.
We reaffirm the important role of human rights defenders [in documenting the ongoing repression in Belarus, providing legal assistance to victims, and advising protesters of their rights], and call for the immediate and unconditional release of detained human rights defenders as well as of other political prisoners [whose numbers rise constantly], now being more than 653 . We further ask that charges against all those criminally investigated on spurious grounds are dropped.
We insist that Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich, Uladzimir Labkovich, Marfa Rabkova, Leanid Sudalenka, Andrei Chepyuk, Tatsyana Lasitsa, Maryia Tarasenka, and Andrey Aleksandrau, who have been vocal and visible representatives of the independent civil society in Belarus, be immediately and unconditionally released, free of charge.
Finally, we call on all States to stand with all human rights defenders, independent voices and all the people oppressed in Belarus.
I thank you.