LIVE: Svetlana Tikhanovskaya addresses PACE committee to discuss Belarus
She called on the international community to put pressure on Alexander Lukashenko and his government
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya called the situation in Belarus “absolutely unacceptable” and called for international pressure to help the country get rid of President Alexander Lukashenko, who, according to her, no longer represents Belarus. During a virtual speech before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on September 8, Tikhanovskaya called for international pressure, including sanctions, on Lukashenka and his government.
“My country, my nation, my people now need help,” she said. “We need international pressure on this regime, on this person desperately clinging to power. We need sanctions against those who issue and execute criminal orders that violate international norms and human rights. We need to immediately release all political prisoners and start a civilized dialogue to find a way to move our country forward. “.
Tikhanovskaya appealed to PACE on behalf of Belarusians, who are currently victims of mass arrests, beatings by security forces and obvious enforced disappearances: “I refuse, like millions of Belarusians, to admit that this is the fate of my country. I refuse, like millions of Belarusians, to admit that the world will simply stand and watch these countless violations of human rights, this blatant disregard for human dignity, this complete destruction of any elementary respect for human decency. I refuse, like millions of Belarusians, to retreat and surrender “.
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Tikhanovskaya’s speech at PACE
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Tikhanovskaya told PACE representatives that “countries and parties that conclude deals with Lukashenka do so at their own peril and risk” and should not expect the subsequent democratically elected government to abide by treaties “concluded against the will of [the Belarusians] by the illegal regime”.
Tikhanovskaya ran against Lukashenko in the August 9 elections, which, according to the opposition, were rigged. A few days later, she left for Lithuania amid massive protests and rumors that she should be arrested..
Unprecedented daily protests continue in Belarus, calling on Lukashenka to resign and hold new elections.
Tikhanovskaya’s speech to PACE came just hours after Belarusian authorities said they had detained Tikhanovskaya’s ally Maria Kolesnikova after she and two other opposition organizers mysteriously appeared at a checkpoint on the border with Ukraine following reports that they were abducted in Minsk the day before.
All three are members of the Coordination Council, which is seeking Lukashenka’s resignation from power. PACE President Rick Dam recently called for a “comprehensive national political process” in Belarus to ensure a peaceful and democratic transition of power.
Belarus is not a member of the Council of Europe, but since its observer status was suspended in 1997, the assembly has continued to maintain a dialogue with the Belarusian authorities and has often invited Belarusian politicians to meetings of its committee..
“It is symbolic that I am speaking today here, in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, representing my country, Belarus, which is located right in the geographical center of Europe. And yet, I have to act here as an outside observer, – said Tikhanovskaya. – I firmly believe that this situation will not last long. Belarusians are now fighting for the values for which this organization was created in order to defend human rights, democracy and the rule of law – exactly what the current regime in my country despises and mocks at ”.
Tikhanovskaya, according to Reuters, said the apparent abductions of members of the Opposition Coordination Council on September 7 indicated that authorities were trying to quell protests and intimidate the opposition. Tihanovskaya plans to visit Warsaw this week to meet with representatives of the Polish authorities.
Meanwhile, Lukashenko plans to visit Russia “within a few days”; this was announced on September 7 by the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation.
Recall that earlier US Undersecretary of State Stephen Bigan said: “One of the things that can limit the ability of any president – regardless of the results [of the US presidential elections in November] – to develop cooperation with Russia in any area is direct Russian interference in Belarus, “he added.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded that the Belarusian authorities immediately release all detained protesters and called on official Minsk to end the violence.
In addition, on Tuesday, a senior US administration official said,
that the United States is extremely concerned about the continuing human rights violations following the elections in Belarus. He noted that reports of abductions, forced expulsion or other threats against opposition representatives are just some of the many methods that the Belarusian government uses in its attempts to deprive people of freedom of speech..
The United States, as a senior US administration official noted, is working with international partners to hold accountable those who commit these violations..
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