The human rights situation in Belarus continues to deteriorate, particularly with respect to peaceful assembly, the UN rights chief said on Friday, urging the government to put an end to ongoing violations and “take steps towards a genuine, respectful and inclusive national dialogue”.
Speaking at a meeting of the Human Rights Council, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet shared reports of more than 27,000 arrests since 9 August, when protesters began contesting the result of presidential elections.
“In the last month, hundreds of people continued to be arrested each week during the demonstrations – with reportedly around 1,000 people on 8 November and 700 on 15 November, while allegations of injuries during dispersals and of ill-treatment during arrests continued to emerge”, she said.
“Senior citizens have reportedly also been arrested during the pensioners’ peaceful weekly marches”, she added, pointing out that on 30 November, some 20 had been arrested.
Protect rights defenders
Since August, 373 journalists have been arrested, six of whom are currently detained, three on criminal charges.
“I deplore the continuing harassment and arrests of many human rights defenders and journalists, in the context of the protests”, Ms. Bachelet underscored.
Meanwhile, lawyers involved in human rights violations are also under pressure – with some disbarred and others facing criminal accusations – and disciplinary sanctions are being imposed on protesting teachers and students.