The United Nations human rights chief today voiced deep concern about the violence that erupted after Sunday’s presidential election in Belarus, including the abduction of opposition candidates, and called for the immediate release of those detained.
“I am very much concerned by the use of force against demonstrators who were not participating in hostilities, violence against and abduction of opposition candidates and their supporters, detention of opposition activists and human rights defenders, and searches and harassment of independent non-governmental organizations,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated in a news release.
A leading opposition candidate was attacked on his way to a mass rally in the capital, Minsk, hospitalized and later abducted by unidentified persons amid the violence that erupted following the polls, according to the news release.
In addition, attempts by some radical supporters of opposition candidates to break into a government building were followed by mass detentions of opposition candidates and their supporters, human rights activists, journalists and harassment of civil society.
Ms. Pillay condemned any calls for or resort to violence on the part of some radical factions in the opposition.
At the same time, she stressed that “the relevant authorities must fully respect and ensure their political opponents’ rights to peaceful demonstrations and freedom of speech.”
The High Commissioner called for the immediate release of opposition candidates and their supporters who did not call for and were not involved in any violence.
She also called on the Government of Belarus to ensure that human rights defenders, journalists and civil society organizations are free from any harassment. “I urge all parties to refrain from violence and demonstrate full respect for human rights.”