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Mr President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
We have witnessed an unprecedented level of repression in Belarus over the last three months. It is clear that the elections were neither free nor fair and Lukashenko has no democratic legitimacy. The Belarusian authorities have not accepted international offers of mediation and the human rights situation continues to deteriorate.
More than 30,000 people have been arrested following the elections and there are more than 100 political prisoners recognised by the European Union. At least 500 cases of torture have been documented and at least 4 persons have been killed. The latest example –as mentioned by many- was on 12 November, when 31-year old Raman Bandarenka died due to serious injuries caused by the brutality of police. This is another shameful result of the brutal repression that the Belarusian authorities carry out against their own, peacefully protesting people.
As the European Union, we have been leading the international response for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus.
The European Union led the Resolution in the United Nations Human Rights Council that requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor the situation of human rights in Belarus and to present an oral update on the situation, including recommendations, to be followed by a written report and an interactive dialogue at the next session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The European Union Member States were at the forefront of the move within the OSCE to invoke the Moscow Mechanism to report on the human rights violations in Belarus and provide recommendations. The resulting report and the recommendations should now be followed up. The European Union stands ready to assist in the implementation of these recommendations.
There must be no impunity for violations of human rights such as those that we are witnessing in Belarus. We will continue to support the peaceful protestors and their legitimate call for free and fair elections. We will continue to support civil society and independent media. And we have also launched the preparatory work for a third package of sanctions, in addition to the sanctions on 55 individuals responsible for violent repression and election falsification, which we have already adopted.
Finally, concerning the so-called Magnitsky Act, the Commission has done its work. It has sent the proposal to the Council.
As announced in the Council Conclusions of 12 October, the European Union stands also ready to support a peaceful democratic transition with a variety of instruments, including a comprehensive plan of economic support for a democratic Belarus.
Let me thank at the end the European Parliament for its relentless support to the democratic struggle of the Belarusian people.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-199161