2010 06/08
ANN

UN

Leaders of Belarusian opposition have addressed the UN Security Council with a request to conduct an international investigation of abductions of well-known Belarusians.

On Wednesday the appeal was sent to Foreign Ministers of the permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, Russia, the Great Britain, France and the US. The full text of the address follows.

Your Exсellency

We are writing to you about the disappearances of high-level public figures in Belarus which remain uninvestigated for long time.

To date, the human rights community in Belarus, the lawyers for the families and the relatives of the disappeared have exhausted all available local remedies, and have also exhausted regional and international human rights remedies to no avail. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who remains in power since the time of the disappearances, has not created conditions for a national credible and impartial investigation of these cases and has blocked all international efforts to find the truth about their fates.

The cases of the disappeared men are:

1. Former Belarus Interior Minister Yuri Zakharenko, May 1999

2. Former Vice-Premier, former Chairman of the Central Election Committee Victor Gonchar, September 1999

3. Businessman and public figure Anatoly Krasovski, September 1999

4. Russian TV (ORT) cameraman Dmitri Zavadski, July 2000.

In Belarus, independent civil society investigations of these cases have found some evidence of complicity of the Lukashenka government’s high officials in the disappearances. Two Belarusian prosecutors who found evidence of an official cover-up and published their allegations in the independent Belarusian and foreign media were forced to flee abroad in 2001 and have obtained political asylum and remain in hiding.

In 2000, the UN Committee Against Torture reviewed the periodic report of Belarus, and noted ongoing concerns about disappearances, and called on the state party to “consider establishing an independent and impartial governmental and non-governmental national human rights commission with effective powers to, inter alia, promote human rights and investigate all complaints of human rights violations, in particular those pertaining to the implementation of the Convention” (A/56/44, paras.40-46).

This was never done, and no reply was provided to the UN CAT. The government of Belarus has never responded to repeated queries submitted on these cases from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Disappearances for many years.

In February 2004, a fact-finding report was published of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly which found that senior Belarus officials may have been involved in the disappearances of the four men during 1999 and 2000. The report stated that steps were taken at the highest level of the Belarusian sate to cover up the true background of the disappearances. The report, prepared by Cypriot parliamentarian Christos Pourgourides, was approved unanimously by the Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights meeting during the Assembly’s 2004 winter plenary session in Strasbourg (Doc.100624, February 2004).

In 2006 and again in 2007, Adrian Severin, the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus, reported to the UN Human Rights Council that the human rights situation in Belarus was intolerable, and noted continued inaction on investigation and prosecution of the disappearances(E/CN.4/2006/36).

In July 2010 Russian mass media revealed new information on the disappearances of the opposition leaders and public figures in Belarus and the complicity of high government officials in the disappearances. There was no official reaction to that information.

Due to mass violation of human rights Belarus is not a member of the Council of Europe, so it is not possible to bring a suit regarding the disappearances to the European Court of Human Rights.

Accordingly, mindful of more than 10 years of work attempting to bring justice in the cases of the disappearances of these four prominent Belarusian figures in political life and media, we turn to you as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the permanent member of the UN Security Council to consider taking up this matter and approving a Commission of Inquiry by the UN Security Council into the disappearances of public figures in Belarus in 1999 and 2000.

We make this request mindful of the UN-appointed international commission which investigated the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005 and other politically motivated assassinations in Lebanon (S/RES/1595/2005) as well as the tribunal to try those responsible for the Hariri killing, established by the UN Security Council in June 2007.

We urge you to take up the issue of the disappeared public figures of Belarus at the level of the UN Security Council and to use your good offices to ensure that an international investigation is mandated into the fate of the disappeared.

Respectfully,

(signed by)

Stanislau Shushkevich

Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus of the 12th convocation,

Chairman of the Central Council of the party Belarusian Social Democratic Hramada

Andrei Sannikov

Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus (1995-1996),

Coordinator of the civil campaign “European Belarus”

Ales Byalatski

Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights,

Chairman of Viasna Human Rights Centre

Anatol Lyabedzka

Chairman of the United Civil Party,

Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus of the 12th and 13th convocations

Mechyslau Hryb

Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus (1994-1996),

Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus of the 12th and 13th convocations,

Secretary General of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada)

Sergei Kalyakin

Chairman of the Party “Fair World”

Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus of the 12th and 13th convocations

Alyaksandr Dabravolski

Member of the Political Council of the United Civil Party,

People’s Deputy of the Soviet Union (1989-1991),

Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus of the 13th convocation

Alyaksandr Sasnou

Former Minister of Labour of Belarus,

Member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus of the 12th convocation

Oleg Volchek

Chairman of the human rights centre “Legal Assistance to the Population”

Valery Frolov

Deputy of the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus of the 2nd convocation,

Major General

Alyaksei Yanukevich

Chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front Party

Ryhor Kostuseu

Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front Party

Viktar Ivashkevich

Chairman of Minsk branch of the Belarusian Popular Front Party

Mikhail Marynich

Ex-Minister of Foreign Economic Relations of Belarus,

Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus of the 12th convocation,

Ambassador

Pyotr Sadouski

Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus of the 12th convocation,

Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany (1992-1994)

Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu

Coordinator of “Tell the Truth” civil campaign

Elena Skrigan

Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus of the 13th convocation

Yaroslav Romanchuk

Deputy Chairman of the United Civil Party

Source: “European Belarus” website.

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