Statement by Ambassador Kelly at Arria Meeting on the Situation in Belarus
Statement08 October 2021
I would like to thank Estonia for hosting today’s meeting.
Ireland co-sponsored today’s meeting out of our grave concern for the appalling human rights abuses in Belarus.
Our briefers this morning have highlighted the stark reality on the ground, with Lukashenko’s rule imposed through fear and intimidation, and the deployment of widespread State violence against the Belarusian people.
Despite repeated calls from the international community, and the imposition of targeted sanctions by the EU and other partners, we have seen no end to this repression. Ireland unreservedly condemns these violations and calls for their immediate cessation.
Of particular concern is the arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances of human rights defenders. We call for their immediate and unconditional release.
Freedom of expression also remains severely curtailed. We must continue to press the Belarusian authorities to respect this fundamental freedom and to insist, unequivocally, on the protection of the Belarusian people’s human rights.
I want to pay tribute to the many women who have participated in and led peaceful protests and civic actions in defence of democratic principles and their human rights. Their courage and determination fills us with hope for the future of Belarus.
We are deeply troubled by the Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which refers to numerous accounts of women being violently arrested by security forces, beaten, tortured, and subjected to sexual violence and verbal abuse.
This must stop now, and the perpetrators of such horrendous acts must be held to account.
We have also seen the Belarusian authorities orchestrate the flow of vulnerable migrants, including young children, across its borders into neighbouring countries.
To manipulate migration in this way shows a disregard for the human rights of migrants, with the destabilising effects of this deliberate policy felt across the region.
In the face of such actions, it is incumbent on us all to ensure that our international protection commitments and obligations are fully upheld.
To conclude, Chair, I want to assure you of Ireland’s steadfast support for a sustainable, democratic and peaceful resolution of the situation in Belarus. It is for the Belarusian people alone to decide the future of their country.