Thursday, 14 October 2021
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
114. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of political prisoners in Belarus; the extent to which the international community has concerned itself with the issue; the response from the authorities in Belarus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50199/21]
Since the fraudulent presidential elections of August 2020, the regime of Alexander Lukashenko has used violence and fear to silence dissent. Arbitrary detention of political dissidents is a key element of the repression, and reports from NGOs now suggest that there are over 800 political prisoners in Belarus.
This is an unacceptable state of affairs, and Ireland has been highly vocal on the international stage in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those unjustly detained.
Most recently, Ireland co-sponsored an “Arria formula” meeting at the United Nations Security Council, initiated by Estonia, on the situation in Belarus. Ireland, along with other members of the international community, have also used forums such as the Human Rights Council to hold the regime to account.
At a European level, Ireland has consistently supported economic sanctions on individuals and entities upholding the Lukashenko regime. We are currently engaged in discussions on a fifth package of sanctions.
The Lukashenko regime continues to display a sense of impunity, and has failed thus far to respond to international pressure. However, Ireland will continue to push for an inclusive dialogue of the entirety of Belarusian society, in order to pave the way towards free and fair elections and a democratic Belarus.