Urgent Debate on Belarus: The United Nations Cannot Say It Didn’t Know

Urgent Debate on Belarus: The United Nations Cannot Say It Didn’t Know

Testimony before the UN Human Rights Council, delivered by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, September 18, 2020.

 

Madam President,

Belarus is in crisis as the government deploys brute force to cling to power, and responds to hundreds of thousands of protesters with mass beatings and arbitrary detentions.

We welcome today’s Urgent Debate. But let us be honest to the men and women of Belarus: this meeting is late. Widespread and systematic oppression in Belarus did not begin this year.

The United Nations and this Council cannot say they did not knew know about the systematic abuses in Belarus.

In June 2013, we took the floor here to warn of the “alarming situation of human rights” in Belarus.

In June 2014, we again sounded the alarm over repression in Belarus of political freedom, false imprisonment and the absence of an independent judiciary.

In September 2015, we again told this Council about “suppression of basic freedoms in an ever-shrinking democratic space,” the prosecution of journalists, and the use of torture and forced confessions.

In June 2016, we spoke here of human rights defenders, political parties and unions in Belarus subjected to reprisal, judicial harassment and arbitrary detention.

In June 2017, we warned that “peaceful protests were met with a new wave of oppression.”

And in July 2019, we again denounced gross violations by Belarus.

The United Nations cannot say they didn’t know. In all these years, why did it not convene a special session? Why no commission of inquiry? Where was the urgency?

Why, instead, did the United Nations elect Belarus to the 54-nation Economic and Social Council, which oversees human rights commissions?

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