Thu, 29 Oct 2020

Belarus opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya will address the UN Human Rights Council by video on September 18 during an urgent debate called by the European Union to discuss a crackdown on dissent following last month's disputed presidential election.

The EU has called for UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet to closely monitor the situation in Belarus, where thousands of people have been detained, hundreds beaten by police, and there are reports of widespread torture.

Bachelet said earlier this week that these allegations 'should be documented and investigated, with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice.'

The Belarusian opposition and West claim that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's extended his 26-year rule in a rigged election.

Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to Lithuania following the August 9 vote and claims to have won, said on September 17 that the opposition and human rights groups were preparing to release a list of officials and security officers allegedly involved in violence against protesters.

"We were given the names of those who torture and beat people. Therefore, we are preparing a separate list of officials and law enforcement officers who have participated and continue to participate in police mischief," Tsikhanouskaya wrote on her Telegram channel.

She said the list would be named after Alyaksandr Taraykouski, the first protester believed to have been killed by riot police a day after the election.

Tsikhanouskaya said the sanctions list will include those suspected of involvement in torture, illegal arrests, and other abuses. She said it will be shared with the United States, the EU, and others.

"I suggest the security forces stop the violence and side with the Belarusian people. Otherwise, you will not avoid a fair trial and punishment," she wrote.

Washington and Brussels have been mulling sanctions against Belarusian officials for alleged vote-rigging and the violent response to protests.

Meanwhile, Russia's backing has become crucial for Lukashenka's survival and the Kremlin has echoed Lukashenka in accusing the West of seeking a revolution in the country.

On September 17, the European Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution refusing to recognize Lukashenka as president once his current term expires in November.

The resolution calls for "new, free, and fair elections to take place as soon as possible under international supervision."

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has also launched an investigation into alleged human rights abuses and election fraud.

EU foreign ministers and the bloc's diplomatic chief, Josep Borrell, are planning to meet with Tsikhanouskaya in Brussels on September 21.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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