General Comment on the “Situation of human rights in Belarus in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and in its aftermath”
Statement as Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
Delegation of the United States of America
Human Rights Council – 49th Session
April 1, 2022
Now more than ever, it is crucial that we renew the UN High Commissioner’s reporting mandate on Belarus. In this time of crisis in Europe, where Russian forces are turning Ukrainian cities into rubble, we must not lose sight of the very real human tragedy next door in Belarus.
Following the fraudulent presidential election in 2020, the Belarusian people triumphantly launched a full-scale pro-democracy movement. For the nearly two years since that time, the people of Belarus have bravely defied the odds – at great risk to life and limb – by standing up valiantly in the face of Lukashenka’s brutal authoritarianism and peacefully demanding respect for their human rights and fundamental freedoms. They are calling for a democratic transition; new, free and fair elections; and the release of all political prisoners.
What has been the response of the regime in Minsk? Twenty months of an intensified, brutal crackdown against Belarusians – members of the opposition, civil society, journalists, students, women, girls, the elderly; unjust and massive detentions of over 34,000 people; holding more than 1,000 political prisoners; over 1,500 reported cases of torture; air piracy; and reports of extrajudicial killings, all with complete impunity.
Now we have a new element in this tragedy – the Belarusian authorities’ complicity in Putin’s unprovoked war against Ukraine and locking up Belarusians who dare to protest against it.
We may not be able to stop every human rights atrocity or abuse being committed in the world today, but we can, and must, document them so that we can pursue full accountability. We urge every HRC member to vote Yes on this resolution. We note that targeted sanctions are a response to, not the cause of, the dire human rights situation in Belarus. We urge all members to reject the amendments proposed by Belarus, which seek to deflect attention away from the regime’s responsibility for its own reprehensible actions.