Civil society demands decisive actions by the international community to stop repression and support a democratic transition in Belarus

Civil society demands much more decisive actions by the international community to stop repression and support a democratic transition in Belarus

Participants of the Parallel OSCE Civil Society Conference in Stockholm presented to the OSCE leadership a joint statement signed by more than 50 non-governmental organisations, demanding much more decisive international actions to stop repression and support a democratic transition in Belarus. The statement outlines a set of concrete recommendations to concerned states “that care for democracy and human rights.” The Parallel Conference was organised by the Civic Solidarity Platform on 1 December, on the eve of the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting.

Civil society groups from 24 countries of the OSCE region state in the joint document that they “are disappointed by the too slow and too timid reaction by the international community to the most brutal and large-scale repression in the recent European history which continues non-stop since last August and has recently spiralled up”. The statement says: “Too many words and too little action is what we observe. <…> Every week of delay in taking truly effective multilateral action costs enormous suffering of Belarusians and makes the transition in the future more challenging.”

Signatories of the statement assert that the “unprecedented crackdown requires unprecedented response – a strong, timely, comprehensive, sustained over time, and well-coordinated reaction from states” and intergovernmental organisations. It should combine political pressure, use of legal tools at the international and national level, progressive application of effective economic sanctions, preparing a major package of assistance for the transitional period, and scaling up support to pro-democracy forces, civil society, independent media, victims of repression, and Belarusians in exile.

Civil society groups call on concerned states to take a series of steps without delay, such as ensuring a meaningful follow-up to the 2020 OSCE Moscow Mechanism report which could include commissioning a new report or an update to the 2020 report to assess the implementation of its recommendations; continuing the non-recognition of Lukashenka as president and not recognising legitimacy of the Belarusian government, as it was appointed by the illegitimate ruler; acknowledging Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya as a legitimate democratic transit leader; stimulating presence of the voice of credible and widely recognised representatives of Belarusian civil society and opposition at OSCE events; establishing an informal group of “friends of Belarus”, comprised of representatives of concerned states; and scaling up support to pro-democracy forces and victims of repression.

Civil society groups call on OSCE participating States to support active application of legal tools to end impunity and deter repression, including by more actively upholding the documentation work by the UN Expert Mechanism on Belarus and the International Accountability Platform for Belarus, providing political backing to and investing resources in the universal jurisdiction mechanism, acknowledging crimes of the Lukashenka regime against civilians as crimes against humanity and making referrals to the ICC Prosecutor, and discussing the idea of the establishment of an international tribunal.

Finally, signatories of the statement insist that the economic basis of the regime should be undermined further by strictly applying economic sanctions that have already been imposed and by regularly adding new packages, including further sectoral and financial sanctions, until international demands of ending repression, releasing all people detained for political reasons, and holding free and fair elections under international control are met. Sanctions should be built up consistently and progressively, at more regular intervals. Concerned states should use their investigative capacity to cut off grey schemes used by Lukashenka and his proxies to circumvent sanctions, and update designations for sanctions immediately once an evasion scheme is detected.

The text of the appeal can be found HERE.


Photo credit: Ольга Шукайло, TUT.BY