U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the Belarusian authorities to heed the demands of the Belarusian people for free and fair elections. Pompeo’s statement came after the publication of a report on alleged human rights violations in Belarus following the presidential elections by OSCE Moscow Mechanism Rapporteur Professor Wolfgang Benedek.
The U.S. State Department stated that the report reveals “human rights violations and abuses committed on a massive scale and with impunity by the Belarusian authorities during the fraudulent August 9 election and its aftermath. The abuses against peaceful demonstrators, opposition activists, and journalists include torture, arbitrary detention, and curtailment of the exercise of freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.”
“We remain inspired by the resilience and dignity of the Belarusian people. The United States continues to call on the Belarusian authorities to cease their crackdown and heed the demands of the Belarusian people for free and fair elections under independent observation,” said Pompeo.
He believes that the recommendations in the report provide the Belarusian authorities with a roadmap out of the crisis in the country.
“This includes: a robust OSCE/ODIHR observation mission; an end to the violence against their own people and ensuring accountability for those found responsible for past abuses; the release of all those who have been unjustly detained; and engagement in meaningful national dialogue with authentic representatives of the political opposition and civil society.”
Recall that Mike Pompeo visited Belarus this February. Then he met with Alexander Lukashenko and visited the HTP. Pompeo said that Belarus’s progress on human rights, press freedom and strengthening the role of civil society was the only option for a complete lifting of the sanctions. In addition, he said that American producers are ready to provide Belarus with 100% of oil at competitive prices.
After the presidential elections in Belarus, Pompeo described them as neither free nor fair. He also stated that the U.S. will work with the European counterparts on an appropriate response to the situation in Belarus. On 2 October, the U.S. imposed sanctions on eight Belarusian officials, including representatives of the Interior Ministry and the Central Election Commission (CEC).
On the same day, the EU published a list of 40 names of Belarusian officials subject to personal restrictive measures. On 24 October, Alexander Lukashenko and Michael Pompeo talked on the phone. Lukashenko later spoke about his good relations with the U.S. Secretary of State and that he warned him about a response from Belarus, “if there would be any unfriendly movements from Poland, Lithuania, and, maybe, Ukraine.”