On Thursday, MEPs passed a resolution on ‘the continuous violations of human rights in Belarus, in particular the murder of Raman Bandarenka’. The text was adopted by 613 votes in favour, 41 against and 35 abstentions.
The European Parliament demanded prompt, thorough, and independent investigations into Bandarenka’s death and the protest-related deaths of other Belarusian civilians. The deputies reiterated their support for the protesters’ demands for freedom, democracy, dignity, and the right to choose their own destiny, while condemning the ongoing human rights violations, intimidation, and disproportionate use of force by the authorities towards peaceful demonstrators.
“The EP<…> calls for the EU to lend support to an international investigation of crimes perpetrated by the Lukashenka regime against the people of Belarus; believes that the investigation should be supported by the establishment of an evidence collection centre and an EU taskforce of international law experts to assist in future international investigations; calls on the Commission, the Member States and the EEAS to provide full support to the efforts of the UN Human Rights Council and the OSCE Moscow Mechanism, as well as human rights defenders and civil society, to ensure documentation and reporting of human rights violations and subsequent accountability and justice for victims,” the document reads.
In the resolution, MEPs also highlight that actions taken so far by the EU and the member states against the Lukashenka regime were ‘insufficient’; they have welcomed the decision to work on a third package of sanctions aimed at firms and oligarchs with ties to the regime and called for a ‘credible enlargement’ of the EU sanctions list.
Last week, Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya called on the international community to recognise Belarus’ OMON riot police and Main Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption (a unit of the Interior Ministry) as ‘extremist’ or ‘terrorist’ organisations. If her voice is heard on the global stage, the consequences will definitely affect the Belarusian security forces, RFE/RL political commentator Vital Tsyhankou believes.
“It means quite strong and significant measures [might be taken]. Apart from the lack of cooperation [with the West], they will not be able to leave the country, they will be under international warrants for the rest of their lives, they will be considered criminals who have been simply not caught,” he told Belsat TV.
In November, Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey stated that the opposition’s calls for economic sanctions were posing a great threat to the statehood of Belarus. According to him, Belarus is not interested in building a new ‘Berlin Wall’, but it might ‘adequately respond to any sanctions both in political and economic terms’. On Thursday, he expressed the Belarusian authorities’ readiness to stop any cooperation with the Council of Europe.