Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter during the UN Security Council Arria Meeting on Human Rights in Belarus, September 4, 2020

04.09.2020 - Speech

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Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, thank you very much for convening this meeting on the latest developments and on the human rights situation in Belarus, which remains the cause of deep concern. We pay tribute to the courageous people of Belarus who keep standing up for their democratic rights and are braving brutal violence, arbitrary arrests and other human rights violations.

I would like to make three points. The first one is on elections. In light of the results and the way of conducting the elections in Belarus, the reaction of the population is no surprise. These elections were neither free nor fair. Therefore, we do not recognize the results as presented by the Belarus Central Election Commission. An independent assessment mission must be pursued, for example, by the OSCE.

My second point is on the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We are shocked to see the excessive use of force by police across Belarus in the face of peaceful protests. This is deplorable. We call on a prompt and effective investigation of all acts of brutal police misconduct in order to hold the responsible persons to account. We are particularly alarmed by the arbitrary arrests and allegations of serious human rights violations in detention centers. We call for the immediate release of all unlawfully detained people. The continuing attacks on freedom of the media, among them journalists from Germany, represent another regrettable step towards more repression instead of a dialogue with the population. We have clearly conveyed this message to the Ambassador of Belarus in Berlin earlier this week. All countries across the OSCE region have committed to hold genuinely democratic elections and to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms. We are, like others, convinced that the Human Rights Council needs to address the situation in Belarus. As European Union, we have made clear that these violations of OSCE standards and human rights are unacceptable. The EU agreed to reimpose well calibrated sanctions against those responsible for police violence and for these fraudulent elections. Within the European Union, we are reviewing our relations with Belarus. Our focus will be on the people first, on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

My third point is on conflict resolution through inclusive national dialogue. We call on the Belarusian authorities to find a way out of the crisis by bringing about an end to violence and by engaging in a genuine and inclusive national dialogue. Last week's special meeting of the Permanent Council of the OSCE has clearly demonstrated to us that the OSCE is ready to provide assistance to further these efforts. Germany fully supports the proposal of the OSCE chairperson in office, Prime Minister and Minister of Europe on Foreign Affairs of Albania, Edi Rama, and the incoming OSCE chairperson in office, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Ann Linde, to pay a visit to Belarus and to meet with the government and representatives of civil society and opposition. We urge the government of Belarus to accept this offer. Don't miss the opportunity to take up a genuine dialogue with the people of Belarus, notably with the Coordination Council. The European Union stands ready to provide assistance to facilitating a national dialogue. This must be underpinned by independent and free media and a vibrant civil society. Journalists must be able to report freely and unhindered. Citizens must be allowed to peacefully express their views and to freely assemble. In conclusion, it is crucial that we help find a political solution to the current crisis involving all stakeholders. We stand ready to contribute to efforts to peacefully end the crisis. Now is the time for those in power in Belarus to take up the OSCE's offer to facilitate an inclusive and credible dialogue with the people of Belarus.

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