Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Friday demanded an international mission to document the “atrocities” committed during the crackdown on anti-government protesters in recent weeks.
She made the comments during a highly charged debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
In a video message to the 47-member state forum, Tsikhanouskaya called for a monitoring team to be sent to Minsk and demanded that President Alexander Lukasehnko hold another election.
The Belarusian strongman insists he won 80% of the vote in a disputed presidential poll on August 9 that sparked more than five weeks of protests and brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets.
Insisting that she was ready to talk, Tsikhanouskaya said it was vital that the police violence against her supporters be independently chronicled.
Violation of international norms
“The scope and the brutality of the extensive force used by the regime is in clear violation of all international norms and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations,” the opposition leader told diplomats from Lithuania, where she is in exile.
Tsikhanouskaya dismissed the Belarusian leadership’s allegations that international scrutiny amounts to meddling in the country’s internal affairs.
During Friday’s seession, envoys from Belarus, Russia, Venezuela and China raised a long series of points of order to to to prevent UN officials from giving testimony about the often-brutal police response.
Anais Marin, the UN special rapporteur on the rights situation in Belarus, told the council that more than 10,000 people had been “abusively arrested” and hundreds of cases of torture were reported to the world body, including rape, electrocution and other forms of physical and psychological torture.
Regional security threatened
In an interview with DW shortly after her appearance, Marin said the unrest in Belarus now has the potential to escalate in such a way that it destabilizes international peace and security.
“We cannot deny the reality of the crimes committed. We have seen them all, there were videos and photos. These testimonies are about very serious crimes, so we cannot pretend that they didn’t happen or that it’s a only a domestic affair,” she said.
Lukashenko has blamed the United States and its allies for fomenting the weeks of unrest, and on Thursday threatened to shut the borders with Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Ukraine, warning of a possible “war.”
Minsk has turned to longtime ally Russia for support and the two countries on Friday said that their special forces had rehearsed a counter-terrorism scenario involving some 800 soldiers.
The Human Rights Council is set to decide on Friday on a resolution introduced by European countries, which calls on Minsk to stop violations and urges the government to allow a visit by a UN rights investigator.
mm/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)
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