The recent report by the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on Belarus, Miklos Haraszti, has called on the international community to remain vigilant on human rights in the country.
The Belarus government has returned to a policy of large-scale repression, causing a dramatic deterioration in human rights, Haraszti warns.
“Throughout March 2017, the Government executed a centrally planned, nationwide violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, human rights defenders, political opponents and journalists, as well as on foreign observers of the events. The crackdown came to a head around 25 March (Freedom Day), a popular but unacknowledged commemoration of national independence. The authorities also conducted preventive arrests of political opponents and civil activists, some unannounced, some accompanied by public allegations of an armed conspiracy to overthrow the Government, thereby opening up the possibility of silencing opponents for several years,” the report says.
In March 2017, the media in Belarus faced extraordinary pressure from the authorities, Haraszti stresses with reference to 123 cases of violations of journalistic rights registered by the Belarusian Association of Journalists. The report also contains information on the search in Minsk-based Belsat TV offices and seizure of computers:
“On 31 March, two offices of Belsat TV in Minsk, which is part of Polish public television, were searched and equipment was seized. The police justified its action by citing a trademark suit initiated by an equipment seller several years previously. Throughout March, the police singled out Belsat journalists when harassing, detaining and beating journalists.”
The UN Human Rights Council restored the position of the Council’s rapporteur on Belarus in July 2012, much to the displeasure of the Belarusian government. Mr. Haraszti, a Hungarian politician, was appointed special rapporteur on Belarus on September 28, 2012.