UN report: Number of political prisoners in Belarus has risen to almost 1,300

UN report: Number of political prisoners in Belarus has risen to almost 1,300

Dhe interim UN human rights commissioner Nada Al-Nashif has complained that the human rights situation in Belarus has deteriorated significantly. Since March, the number of people detained on “politically based allegations” has risen from 1,085 to 1,296, Nashif said on Friday. The “climate of repression” in Belarus persists and is accompanied by a “deteriorating human rights situation” and “widespread impunity”. The government in Belarus rejected the allegations as “deliberate distortion of reality”.

According to UN information, at least 37,000 people were arrested at least temporarily between May 2020 and May 2021 alone, including opposition politicians, activists, trade unionists, journalists and demonstrators, explained Al-Nashif. Those arrested are often accused of “extremist activities”, tax fraud or even “high treason”.

The office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights has been monitoring the situation in Belarus particularly closely for the months leading up to the re-election of ruler Alexander Lukashenko in 2020.

Protests violently suppressed

After the presidential election in summer 2020, in which Lukashenko was re-elected according to official information, there had been mass demonstrations against the head of state in Belarus for weeks on an unprecedented scale. The President violently suppressed the protests.

Thousands of people were arrested or forced to flee into exile. The latter included opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya, who took the place of her husband, who had been imprisoned before the election.

According to Al-Nashif, at least 370 organizations in Belarus have ceased their activities since 2020 for fear of criminal prosecution, and more than 630 organizations are currently being dissolved by the authorities – including virtually all human rights groups in the country. Belarus denied Al-Nashif’s allegations. The permanent representative of the Minsk government, Larisa Belskaya, called the allegations “very far from reality” and a “deliberate distortion of reality”. The United Nations tried with its legal system “to take over the task pursued by the Western elites to destroy pluralism and multilateralism”.

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