A U.N. investigator accuses Belarusian authorities of enforcing a policy of repression aimed at purging its society of what the country’s leadership describes as undesirable, dissident elements. The U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus has submitted her report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.
U.N. investigator Anais Marin has issued a blistering attack against the brutal methods employed by the government of President Alexander Lukashenko to keep its population in line. She says Belarus has suffered an unprecedented human rights crisis since the August 9 presidential election, widely viewed as fraudulent.
Over the past year, she notes more than 35,000 people have been arbitrarily detained for exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly or in support of victims of abuse. Marin accuses the Belarusian authorities of launching a full-scale assault against civil society.
“Thousands of people are undergoing violence, beatings, humiliation and intimidation from the police. I have been told of a systematic use of torture or other forms of degrading or inhuman treatment directed against people in detention,” she said.
Marin says the government’s violent crackdown on civil society and the fear of reprisals have driven tens of thousands of people to seek safety abroad. However, she adds opponents no longer feel safe anywhere. This, since Belarus forced a civilian airplane to land in the capital, Minsk, on May 23 for the sole purpose of arresting a dissident aboard.
“This incident, which shocked the international community highlights the desire of the authorities to put an end to any form of dissidence," she said. "Purging society of those elements which it considers to be undesirable. And I am deliberately using the word purge… It is a form of purge reminding us of those which totalitarian regimes practice.”
Polish Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Zbignew Czech delivered a joint statement on behalf of 46 states. He condemned the forced diversion and landing of the Ryanair jet and the arrest of journalist Raman Pratasevich and his partner, Sofia Sapega by Belarusian authorities.
“This act apparently endangering the lives of passengers and crew was an attack on human rights and an affront to international norms," he said. "We deplore the ongoing and systematic repression of the Belarusian people… We stand in solidarity with the imprisoned journalists and of all the Belarusian political prisoners reaching 500.”
On behalf of the 46 states, Czech called on Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release Pratasevich and his partner and all those unjustly detained.
Belarus boycotted the meeting so was not present to take the floor as a concerned country.