4 September 2020, 18:15 | TUT.BY
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has spoken at an informal conference of the UN Security Council. Hearings on the situation in Belarus were initiated by Estonia, with the involvement of ten other nations, including permanent members of the council.
Estonia has initiated hearings regarding the situation in Belarus together with United Nations (UN) permanent members including the US, UK, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine. The meeting was presided over by the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu.
Within the framework of the meeting, Anaïs Marin, Special Rapporteur on Belarus, presented an appeal via videoconference. She reported on human rights violations in Belarus, unreasonable detentions, and unprecedented violence against peaceful protestors.
Sviatlana Tikhanovskaya spoke later in the hearings, also via videoconference:
Today, my country Belarus is in turmoil. Peaceful protesters are being illegally detained, beaten, and imprisoned. The protests themselves started after a cynical and blatant attempt by Mr. Lukashenko to steal the voices of the people. The demands of the nation are simple: immediate termination of violence and threats by the regime, immediate release of all political prisoners, and free and fair elections. There is only one obstacle in the way of these demands. This obstacle is Mr. Lukashenko, a man desperately clinging onto power and refusing to listen to either his people or his own state officials. A nation cannot and should not be hostage to one man’s thirst for power. And it will not be. Belarusians have woken up. We have passed the point of no return. This is currently manifested by daily demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people all across Belarus, despite police brutality and blatant disregard of Belarusian laws and international norms. This is manifested by strikes across the largest factories and state-owned companies in Belarus, despite intimidation and, in some cases, unlawful layoffs. This is manifested by all the strata of Belarusian society and representatives across the political spectrum demanding the same thing. Mr. Lukashenko’s regime is morally bankrupt, legally questionable, and simply untenable in the eyes of our nation.
Tikhanovskaya has asked the United Nations for assistance in restoring the rule of law and the protection of human rights in Belarus. As such, she also called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the current situation in Belarus:
The UN was created as a formal body for the entire international community in order to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. In 1945, Belarus was one of the founding members of the UN. Today, we, the Belarusian people, need the help of the UN in order to stop blatant human rights violations and cynical disregard for human dignity in the middle of Europe. We ask the UN to condemn the use of excessive force by the Belarusian security forces against protestors. We suggest a special session of the UN Human Rights Council to discuss the human rights situation in Belarus. We urge the UN to send an immediate international monitoring mission to Belarus to document the situation on the ground. We demand to allow entry and free movement to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Belarus. We demand the immediate release of all political prisoners from arbitrary detention, including Siarhei Tikhanouski, Viktar Babaryka, Pavel Severinets, Volha Kavalkova, Siarhei Dyleuski, Nikola Statkevich and dozens of other civil society leaders. We demand an end to the intimidation and targeting of members of the Coordination Council, including Sviatlana Alexievich, Volha Kavalkova, Pavel Latushka, Siarhei Dyleuski, Maria Kalesnikava, Maxim Znak, and others.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addressed the entire international community with a call to refuse cooperation with Belarusian authorities, and to introduce individual sanctions against those who were involved in election rigging and violence against peaceful citizens. She concluded:
I want to make it very clear: collaboration with the regime of Mr. Lukashenko currently means the support of violence and blatant violation of human rights. I call on the international community to use all mechanisms to stop the violence, including sanctions on the individuals that committed electoral violations and crimes against humanity. At the same time, I stress that Lukashenko no longer represents our country. Belarusians are lawful, peaceful, and responsible people with a high sense of personal and collective dignity which they demonstrated every moment of every day over the past few weeks. We are ready and open to dialogue with all sides, all parties and countries that respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Belarus.
Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” Valentin Stefanovich, Counsel of the Belarusian Journalist Association Olga Sakhovich, as well as the representatives of the conference-organising member states have all spoken during the hearings.