Item 4 General Debate on Human Rights Situations Requiring Council Attention
Statement of the United States of America
As Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
United Nations Human Rights Council 49th Session
Geneva, March 21, 2022
Thank you, Madam Vice President.
We condemn in the strongest terms the brutality of the Russian government for its unprovoked and unjustified war causing a human rights and humanitarian catastrophe and call on it to cease its aggression against Ukraine. We reject Russia’s lies and point to the searing images captured by journalists on the ground of civilians, including mothers and children, slaughtered by Russia’s forces while trying to flee their homes. To attempt to hide this truth from its own citizens, Russian authorities are resorting to unprecedented suppression of dissent and targeting of independent media inside Russia.
We also condemn the Lukashenka regime’s continued brutal repression of Belarusian civil society, anti-war protestors, and the pro-democracy movement, its efforts to silence Belarusians abroad, and its enabling support of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The Lukashenka regime detained over 800 people in one day for demonstrating peacefully against Russia’s war and against Belarus’s sham referendum resulting in the removal of its neutrality and non-nuclear status from its constitution. The Lukashenka regime currently unjustly holds over 1,080 political prisoners.
In China, the government continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other minority groups. We strongly urge the High Commissioner to immediately release her report on the situation.
In Syria, March marks 11 years of conflict and massive suffering for the Syrian people. The regime must immediately release the tens of thousands of Syrians in arbitrary detention and clarify the fates of those who remain missing.
In Yemen, we are deeply concerned by increased attacks causing civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure. We support the call from Yemeni civil society for a new international, independent accountability mechanism for Yemen.
We are also deeply concerned about the protracted human rights crisis in South Sudan and reiterate the importance of renewing the Commission’s mandate this year. Reports of ethnically based killings, food insecurity of civilians, pervasive gender-based violence, arbitrary arrests and detentions, attacks on humanitarian workers, and restrictions on fundamental freedoms continue.
In Afghanistan, we must continue to press the Taliban to respect the rights of all Afghans, including by stopping unjust detentions of women protestors and journalists, ending retaliations, and allowing all Afghans access to education and to work in every sector.
We call on Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to release unjustly detained prisoners and improve life-threatening prison conditions.
The human rights situations in the DPRK, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Iran, and Myanmar, including but certainly not limited to the genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated against Rohingya, also demand this Council’s ongoing attention.
I thank you.