Statement by the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the first anniversary of fraudulent presidential elections in Belarus
August 9, 2021 Statement by the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the first anniversary of fraudulent presidential elections in Belarus
On this day, a year ago the people of Belarus went out on the streets in protest against the fraudulent presidential elections on August 9, 2020.
We are inspired by the courage of the Belarusian people who, despite the brutal repression of the Belarusian political regime, continue to fight peacefully for their fundamental rights and freedoms, defend their right to live in a free, democratic and independent Belarus.
For over a year now, despite the efforts of the international community, the situation in Belarus continues to deteriorate, the country is turning into a totalitarian state. The number of political prisoners has increased dramatically, systematic repression of independent media, human rights defenders, opposition, civil society and trade unionists, students and other activists continue. Hundreds of cases of torture and cruel treatment of force authorities have been reported, with several people missing or dead. Inhuman treatment, torture, blackmail, persecution has become a common practice of the Belarusian regime in order to break any attempt at peaceful resistance.
It is estimated that over 35,000 Belarusians were detained at some point for protesting against the regime, there are over 600 political prisoners and more than 4,500 political criminal cases against protesters were initiated.
A hotbed of destabilization has emerged in the heart of Europe, which is increasingly threatening international security. The hijacking and forced landing of the Ryanair flight FR4978 on May 23, in Minsk and the detention of journalists Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega are a clear violation of the international law and should be seen as an act of state-sponsored terrorism. Unprecedented organization of illegal migration is an act of hybrid aggression of the Belarusian political regime against Lithuania and the EU, as well as targeted attempt to divert our country’s foreign policy.
We consider any of Lukashenko's actions in domestic and foreign policy aimed at legitimizing his power and concluding new international agreements that limit the sovereignty of the Belarusian nation to be null and void. The current Lukashenko regime in Belarus is illegitimate, illegal and criminal.
We will insist on a thorough investigation into the crimes committed by Lukashenko regime against the people of Belarus and the perpetrators of these crimes to be brought to justice. Lithuania has already started applying the principle of universal jurisdiction for that purpose.
At the same time, we actively support all international initiatives aimed at tackling impunity in Belarus, for example, the initiation of the Moscow mechanism of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the report on human rights violations in Belarus related to the presidential elections of August 9, 2020, as well as the extended mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Anais Marin, by the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution on the situation of human rights in Belarus, the International Accountability Platform for Belarus, and Center for Law and Democracy in Vilnius.
We will seek to expand the EU’s targeted and sectorial sanctions against the Belarusian regime, its supporters and the economic entities supporting the regime, that would be significant and have a more powerful impact on the regime.
The only way out of the stalemate the regime is leading Belarus to by ignoring the aspirations of the Belarusian people, is to engage as soon as possible in a dialogue with Belarusian civil society and its Coordination Council on new, free and fair elections monitored by international observers under the auspices of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and in line with internationally recognized standards.
Lithuania and Belarus have shared common historical experience for many centuries. Lithuania actively supports Belarusian civil society, helps to bring the voice of the Belarusian people to the international arena and is at the forefront of mobilizing international support for democratic Belarus. Vilnius has become a safe haven for hundreds of human rights defenders, opposition and political activists, civil society and the Belarusian business community figures. Belarusians are Europeans and they belong in Europe together with us.