Rome Newsroom, Sep 21, 2020 / 04:00 am
After President Alexander Lukashenko announced that he was putting troops on high alert and closing Belarus’ borders, a Vatican diplomat called Friday for dialogue and respect for the human rights of Belarusian protesters, who continue to take to the streets more than a month after disputed elections.
“The Holy See … renews its appeal for a peaceful and just resolution to the tensions through sincere dialogue, the rejection of violence, and respect for justice and fundamental human and civil rights,” Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič said in Geneva Sept. 18.
Speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s special debate on Belarus, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva said that the Vatican had followed “with great attention the sociopolitical situation following the elections in Belarus.”
“In the search for a peaceable solution to the current crisis, the Holy See considers it indispensable that demonstrators present their requests in a peaceful way. It is also necessary that governing authorities exercise restraint and listen to the voices of their citizens and remain open to their just aspirations, assuring full respect for their civil and human rights,” Jurkovič said.
For six straight weeks, protesters in Minsk have been demanding the resignation of Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994. The protests began after the Aug. 9 election in which Lukashenko claimed victory in the presidential election with 80% of the vote. His challenger, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, complained to electoral officials after they said she had earned just 10% of votes. Fearing imprisonment, she then fled to Lithuania.
The European Parliament rejected the Belarusian election results Sept. 17, passing a resolution saying that it would not recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate president once his current term ends Nov. 5.
Tsikhanouskaya addressed the Human Rights Council Meeting via video link. She spoke of the Belarusian opposition’s “willingness to talk with the authorities and look for peaceful rights-based solutions to the crisis.”
The Belarusian government representative at the UN meeting repeatedly interrupted the video, demanding that it be turned off, reported the Guardian newspaper.