Thursday, 18 November 2021
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
There has been a steep deterioration in the situation in Belarus since Alexander Lukashenko’s fraudulent re-election as president in August 2020. Tens of thousands of Belarusians protested in response, calling for fair elections, justice and a better future. This movement has been suppressed through state-sponsored violence, the use of arbitrary detention, and criminalisation of opposition activities, including protests. According to the Belarusian human rights group, Viasna, more than 850 political prisoners have been detained. Detainees have been tortured, including through use of sexual violence, according to the UN special rapporteur, UNSR. Reports cited by the UNSR claim that detainees have frequently been denied food, water, and access to a lawyer. Journalists have been detained, deported or had credentials removed. Access to the Internet has been restricted and some websites blocked.
I have been vocal about the need for the democratic will of the Belarusian people to be respected.
The Lukashenko regime should engage in a national dialogue leading to early elections that are free, fair and internationally monitored.
Members of the Irish Government have met with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and expressed Ireland’s support for the work of the opposition Co-ordination Council. Ireland has raised the plight of the Belarusian people at the UN Human Rights Council and the Security Council. We called for the implementation of a report by the OSCE expert investigator, Wolfgang Benedek, supported a mandated extension for the UN OHCHR to investigate human rights violations in Belarus and provided funding to projects to protect media freedom in Belarus.
As set out in my earlier response to Deputy Howlin, on Monday, EU Foreign Ministers discussed the escalation of the migrant crisis and broadened the listings criteria for sanctions. These will target individuals and entities organising or contributing to activities by the Lukashenko regime that facilitate illegal crossing of the EU's external borders.