oint statement by the Belarusian human rights community
November 12 , 2023
On the International Day of Solidarity with Belarus, we, representatives of the human rights community of Belarus, declare.
Having finally lost the support of the people, which was most vividly manifested in the results of the presidential elections in August 2020, Aliaksandr Lukashenka and the structures of state power, administration, and propaganda, that supported him, relied on unpunished violence as a tool to retain power. With the help of inexplicable brutality, which shocked the entire democratic world, street protests against the falsification of election results and violence were suppressed. The names of places of detention have become synonymous with torture and inhuman treatment, and hundreds of law enforcement officers turned into executioners in one day.
In the first days of peaceful protests, thousands of the detained and the beaten, hundreds of people injured with weapons, became victims of criminal actions by representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and special operations forces of the Armed Forces; at least three people died.
One of the iconic symbols of sacrificial nonviolent resistance to totalitarianism in Belarus was the story of Raman Bandarenka, who died on November 12, 2020 for his civic position as a result of coordinated actions by representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and a squad of punishers-volunteers from among supporters and confidants of Aliaksandr Lukashenka organized with the consent and approval of the authorities.
This case became a symbol of the symbiosis of deceitful manipulations and inaction of the authorities and Aliaksandr Lukashenka personally, which led to the impunity of those guilty of an obvious crime. The fate of the investigation of this case repeated the fate of about 5,000 cases of torture and other prohibited acts against protesters and dissidents, left without investigation by the authorities for three years: the executioners remained unpunished, and victims with civil society forces who supported them were subjected to unprecedented repression and persecution, including imprisonment.
Impunity is criminal because it has given rise to new crimes. Moreover, the criminal impunity of the most serious violations of human rights and crimes against humanity, the elements of which were torture, kidnapping for political reasons, deportation, imprisonment and other cruel deprivation of physical freedom in violation of the fundamental norms of international law, persecution, which have become everyday and commonplace in modern Belarus.
The result of impunity was the weakening of state sovereignty, which led to the involvement of Belarus in criminal support of the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
Impunity and crimes must end.
We, representatives of the human rights community of Belarus, demand that the authorities abandon further fear-mongering and repression, persecution of political opponents and dissidents; release all political prisoners and cancel politically motivated sentences.
We insist on establishing the rule of law, recognizing the value of human rights, and investigating all crimes against rights and freedoms.
We are confident in the inevitability of punishment for crimes against humanity in order to prevent their recurrence in the future.
We call on international organizations and democratic states to take more effective measures to end impunity.
We ask for solidarity with the people of Belarus!
Human Rights Center Viasna;
Belarusian Helsinki Committee;
Belarusian Association of Journalists;
Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House;
Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.