The United States remains deeply concerned about serious violations of human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in Belarus, said Ian Kelly, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
A year ago the OSCE issued a report with specific recommendations on how Belarus could improve its human rights situation. The regime of President Aleksander Lukashenko ignored the report and instead, continued its crackdown against democratic opposition, civil society, and independent media. The government arbitrarily arrested, detained, and imprisoned citizens for criticizing officials, participating in demonstrations, and defending human rights, and prevented independent media from disseminating information and materials, while imposing travel bans on democratic opposition, civil society activists, human rights defenders and independent media.
As a result, President Barack Obama has extended the National Emergency with regard to Belarus. President Obama took this action to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. This threat is posed by the actions and policies of certain members of the Lukashenko government to undermine Belarus’ democratic processes or institutions; to commit human rights abuses related to political repression, including detentions and disappearances; and to engage in public corruption. This includes diverting or misusing Belarusian public assets or misusing public authority.
The United States again calls on the government of Belarus to release all political prisoners, including Ales Byalyatsky, immediately and unconditionally, ensure restoration of their full political and civil rights, and stop the ongoing harassment of political activists, civil society representatives, human rights activists, and independent journalists. The U.S. also calls on the Lukashenko regime to honor its OSCE commitments and urges the government to issue unrestricted invitations to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the OSCE parliamentary Assembly, and others to observe the September 23rd parliamentary elections.
The people of Belarus deserve to have their fundamental freedoms and human rights respected, including the right to freely choose their government.