Ambassador Elisabeth Millard
Senior Area Advisor for Europe and Eurasia
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 26, 2020
As Submitted for the Record
Thank you, Special Rapporteur Marin, for your report.
The United States supports the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people to choose their own path through free and fair elections. Unfortunately, the August 9 election was neither free nor fair. Authorities have detained thousands of citizens for the simple act of exercising their human rights. The crackdown on peaceful protestors, journalists, and opposition members has led to over 12,000 detentions, hundreds more being hospitalized, and at least five deaths. We fully align ourselves with the Joint Statement on the Human Rights situation in Belarus delivered by Estonia on behalf of 53 countries.
We are gravely concerned by credible reports of wide-scale abuse, mistreatment, and inhumane conditions for those being detained. We are also disturbed by reports of politically motivated detentions and the forced exile, disappearance of, and abduction of National Coordination Council members.
The United States is further troubled by the government’s efforts to stifle human rights and fundamental freedoms, including through its ongoing efforts to shut down the Internet and block content, which unjustifiably restricts freedom of expression, association, and the right to peaceful assembly.
Hundreds of thousands of brave Belarusians have spoken and the government must hear their voices. We call on the government immediately to begin an unrestricted dialogue with the opposition, hold internationally monitored free and fair elections, release all those unjustly detained, and permit the Special Rapporteur access to the country.
We urge the government to turn the page on the lamentable practices of the past. After more than a quarter of a century since the end of the Cold War, it is high time to finally let the people of Belarus choose their own path.
Question: What are the most important steps the international community can take to facilitate open dialogue between the government of Belarus and its citizens?