Ambassador Richard Mills
U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 8, 2021
Let me begin by thanking the Assistant Secretary-General for her remarks today on the concerning human rights situation in Belarus. We also thank the other presenters for their valuable insights into what is a deeply unsettling situation.
It has been more than a year since the fraudulent presidential election in Belarus. It has been over a year since the Lukashenka regime embarked on its campaign of brutal repression against the people of Belarus. As we heard today, the regime’s repression not only affects the people of Belarus, but also transcends borders. Since the Security Council last discussed this issue in May, we have seen a disturbing rise in the regime’s willingness to repress not only its own citizens but also to reach beyond its borders, to use the same tactics to intimidate and threaten Belarusians who have sought refuge outside of Belarus.
The United States condemns the Lukashenka regime’s violent crackdown against civil society. We will continue to stand with our allies and our partners to demand accountability for those who commit abuses and those who craft, order, implement, or support any actions which undermine the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people. This includes the detention of more than 700 political prisoners, the shutting of scores of civil society institutions, and cowardly threats made against the personal safety of democratic leaders forced to live in exile.
The forced diversion of the Ryanair flight in order to detain and torture a blogger was an unacceptable act of transnational repression. We welcomed the International Civil Aviation Organization Council Decision of May 27 that called on the ICAO Secretariat to conduct a fact-finding investigation. This investigation is underway, and the final report will be presented to the ICAO Council in November, and we wait for it urgently.
As long as the regime in Belarus refuses to respect its international obligations and commitments, undermines the peace and security of Europe, and continues to repress and abuse its own people, we will not bend on sanctions, nor will we lessen our calls for accountability.
Let me close by, again, urging the Belarusian authorities to release all political prisoners and call for those in the security services responsible for abuses to be held accountable. We maintain our call for Belarusian authorities to begin a peaceful, inclusive, and constructive dialogue with opposition leaders and Belarusian civil society that is done in a way that respects the aspirations of the Belarusian people.
And finally, Belarus should fully implement the recommendations of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism October 2020 fact-finding report on credible reports of human rights violations before, during, and after the August presidential election.
In closing, I want to thank the Foreign Minister for hosting this important meeting today, and I want to recognize Estonia’s leadership in maintaining the Security Council’s focus on the situation in Belarus.
Thank you very much.