The leadership of Belarus, including President Alexander Lukashenko, will "continue suppression of voices that express positions other than those demanded by the government." Such an opinion was expressed by the U.S. ambassador to the OSCE, Ian Kelly at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on March 3, told the U.S. Mission to the OSCE.
In his speech, the U.S. ambassador said that the Belarusian authorities demonstrated fresh attempts to imprison individuals for apparently political reasons.» According to the American diplomat, it is proved by quick trials, verdicts and sentencing of additional detainees to harsh prison terms for participating in a rally on December 19 in Minsk.
«In other words, the government continues to try to take its people backwards and undermine Belarus’s movement towards Europe. We again urge the immediate release of all detained demonstrators without charges and sentences,» said Ian Kelly.
«The United States would like once again call attention to the unacceptable situation in Belarus. We remain gravely concerned about the government’s failure to uphold democratic principles; the continuing crackdown on civil society, independent media, and opposition political parties and movements; the beginning of trials and harsh sentences of those detained; the harassment of lawyers who represent detainees; limited access by families and legal representatives to those incarcerated in KGB facilities; theconditions under which the detainees are being held and their treatment while in detention; and the closure of the OSCE Office in Minsk,» said in the statement of Ambassador.
Ian Kelly pointed to a number of facts, indicating that the Belarusian authorities did not want to cooperate constructively with international organizations. Thus, the diplomat noted that Belarus had neither responded to the request of the OSCE Representative on Freedom Dunya Mijatovic to visit Belarus, nor allowed the OSCE / ODIHR to freely observe the trial of detainees.
United States Accused Belarus of Violating OSCE Copenhagen Document
«This is regrettably in direct violation of Belarus’ commitment in paragraph 12 of the 1990 Copenhagen Document, in which participating States agreed «to adopt as a confidence-building measure the presence of observers sent by participating States and representatives of non-governmental organizations at proceedings before courts,» said the U.S. ambassador.
«Although the Foreign Minister pledged to constructively cooperate with OSCE executive structures, these words must be backed up by deeds. The Representative on Freedom of the Media must receive permission to visit and carry out their work without conditions and without delay. To meet this end, Belarus is in discussions with ODIHR regarding trial observations. I hope ODIHR observers will be allowed to observe trials as soon as possible,» said Ian Kelly.
Michalevic’s Statements of Torture Raised Concerns of the U.S.
The public statement issued by former presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich on February 28 is particularly disturbing. Mr. Mikhalevich declares that he and other detainees were systematically tortured by KGB officials. He states that he was forced to agree to become a KGB informant in order to be released. We strongly urge the Government of Belarus to allow an independent investigation into these very grave allegations,» said the U.S. ambassador.
«We continue to call for the immediate, unconditional release of all those detained for political motives. We stress the importance of observing due process and the rule of law, and we reaffirm the critical need to uphold OSCE and international commitments,» concluded Ian Kelly.