Have you ever heard of Belarus? It is a country where 9,5 million people live under a dictatorship. Where is it? It sits at the very gates of the European Union. You probably didn’t know it existed, but it’s not too late to do something.
Belarus has been run with an iron fist for the last 21 years by one man, a man named Alexandre Lukachenko.
Despite some positive actions taken beginning in August 2015 (an election was held with no signs of repression and the last of the political prisoners were released), human rights violations are rampant and systematic. Human rights defenders and journalists are monitored and often harassed. It is impossible to create an independent association. For decades, the opposition has been entirely absent from Parliament. It is extremely difficult to get permission for a demonstration. The death penalty is still applied. In the spring of 2016, a person was executed despite explicit opposition by the United Nations. This execution was symptomatic of the government’s refusal to cooperate with the U.N. and illustrated the authorities’ unwillingness to respect human rights.
What is the international community doing about the situation? They continue to turn a blind eye.
Moreover, Belarus shrewdly took advantage of an international context that played in its favour, specifically, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Belarus managed to polish its reputation by serving as a mediator between the two countries.
Last February, the European Union lifted sanctions against the persons responsible for human rights violations in Belarus. And now the U.N. is about to remove the last remaining international human rights observation mechanism in the country. On 30 June, the U.N. Human Rights Council will vote on whether or not to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus. It is essential for the future of the citizens of this country to keep the Special Rapporteur in place.
Without your help, Belarus will continue to be a forgotten dictatorship: