The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe released a report exposing massive and systemic human rights abuses in Belarus perpetrated by the regime of Aleksandr Lukashenka during the fraudulent August 9 election and its aftermath.
The OSCE report claims that the main purpose of Lukashenka's crackdown was “to punish demonstrators and to intimidate them and potential other protesters."
The abuses against peaceful demonstrators, opposition activists, and journalists include torture, arbitrary detention, and curtailment of freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.
Lead author and international law professor Wolfgang Benedek notes in the report that it is “particularly worrying that the well-documented cases of torture and ill-treatment in the crackdown by the security forces on political dissent have not as yet resulted in anybody being held accountable, which is confirming allegations of general impunity, also due to the absence of fair trial in political cases.”
Mass demonstrations have continued across Belarus since the disputed election, increasing pressure on President Lukashenka, who has ruled for 26 years and refuses to acknowledge that the election was stolen.
According to press reports, President Lukashenka has tightened his grip on power by partially closing the western border, replacing his interior minister, and urging security officers policing protests to intensify the crackdown on demonstrators.
The United States “remain(s) inspired by the resilience and dignity of the Belarusian people,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement. “The United States continues to call on the Belarusian authorities to cease their crackdown and heed the demands of the Belarusian people for free and fair elections under independent observation.”
The recommendations in the OSCE report provide Belarusian authorities with a means to end the crisis. The plan includes: an OSCE observer mission; an end to the violence against the Belarusian people; and ensuring accountability for those found responsible for past abuses. Furthermore, all those unjustly detained must be released and there must be a meaningful national dialogue with representatives of the political opposition and civil society.
The United States stands with the people of Belarus in their quest for justice and free and fair elections.