Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's speech at the UN Security Council high-level Arria-formula meeting on Media Freedom in Belarus

Today, January 22, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke at the UN Security Council Arria meeting on media freedom in Belarus. The meeting was initiated by members of the Security Council of Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, Great Britain, and the USA.

Tsikhanouskaya commented on the critical situation in Belarus and the stories of repressed journalists, falsified criminal cases against the media, Ihar Losik's hunger strike. This is the second meeting of the UN Security Council with the participation of Tsikhanouskaya. The first was on September 4, and she called to introduce sanctions against those involved in human rights violations in Belarus and take measures to stop the violence.

Pavel Latushka also took a stand at the meeting. He emphasized the importance of the work of independent media, which helps to reveal and show the world the crimes of the Lukashenka regime. He drew attention to the fact that journalists are not the only group against which systematic repression by the regime continues. The head of the NAM supports the proposal to include Belarus in the UN Security Council's official agenda and urges its members to take measures to resolve the Belarusian crisis.

The full speech of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

“Dear Members of the UN Security Council,

I would like to thank the organizers of this discussion on media freedom in Belarus.

Since September, the situation in Belarus has not improved. It has only worsened.

The protest against the fraudulent election in Belarus has been expressly peaceful. However, the regime responded with violence. Free media has helped to shed light on what is happening – unlawful detentions, torture, and murder of peaceful protesters. And this made the media a target for Lukashenka’s repression machine.    

In 2020, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, independent journalists were detained over 470 times, 97 journalists served administrative arrests, 50 media websites were blocked and 15 journalists are currently facing false criminal charges.

Among them are three fearless female journalists Darya Chul’tsova, Katsiaryna Andrejeva, and Katsiaryna Barysevich who have been in prison for two months already. They are being charged with organizing mass protests and disclosing medical information about Roman Bandarenka, a protester killed by the regime's cronies. They are only guilty of doing their job and telling the truth.

Among them are four members of Press Club Belarus and its founder Yuliya Slutskaya. Among them is well-respected journalist Andrei Aliaksandrau and his partner Iryna Zlobina. They are only guilty of doing their work to support the media and victims of political repressions.

Among them is Ihar Losik, administrator of a popular social media channel in Belarus. He has been on hunger strike for over a month. He is only guilty of telling the truth.

My husband Siarhei Tsikhanouski, a prominent video blogger, is charged with organizing mass protests but he is guilty of telling the truth and running for president. His two children and I haven’t seen him for almost 8 months.

Media under regime’s assault is just part of the bigger picture of repression in Belarus, where more than 32 thousand people have been detained, about 900 suspects in politically-motivated criminal cases, 400 cases of torture reported by the UN and 8 activists dead in relation to state-backed violence. Not a single government official has been held responsible.

In spite of this violence, Belarusians continue protesting every day. They demonstrate courage, dignity, and resilience.

I call on the UN to take a vocal stand to stop the violence and lawlessness in Belarus, including censorship of media, blocking of websites, internet shutdowns, and cancellations of journalist accreditations.

I call on the UN to convene a meeting of the Security Council and put Belarus on the agenda as the country is approaching 6 months of political crisis. The world needs to pay attention to this crisis that can outgrow its boundaries.

I call on the UN to support the recommendations of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism report. This will pave the way to create conditions for political dialogue that will help conduct free and fair elections.    

Our peaceful protest is not only the fight for freedom and dignity in Belarus but also a critical test for international democracies.

Thank you. Long live Belarus!”

22 January 2021 в 16:03