TALLINN - The future of Belarus is in the hands of the people of Belarus, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu said on Friday at a meeting of the UN Security Council aimed at the global community where discussions focused on the human rights violations in Belarus following the recent presidential elections in the country.
"Today's meeting was held at the most influential global forum to provide a platform for those who are suffering, to help end the violence against the people of Belarus and prevent a further deterioration of the situation," Reinsalu, who chaired the meeting, was quoted by spokespeople for the Foreign Ministry as saying.
In his statement, the foreign minister raised the unlawful detaining, torture and sexual harassment of peaceful protesters, and restrictions on free press and the internet.
"This must stop immediately," he emphasized.
It is crucial to have a dialogue between the authorities and people of Belarus that would lead to new and fair elections.
"It is too often that we witness moments of stalemate between the people and dictators. And we have seen what happens when free and fair elections fail and when the legitimate grievances of people are not met," Reinsalu said.
The foreign minister expressed his admiration for the courage and peaceful resolve of the people of Belarus.
At Estonia's invitation, an overview of the human rights situation in Belarus was given by the presidential candidate of the opposition Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus Anais Marin, Vice-Chairman of the Viasna Human Rights Center Valiantsin Stefanovic and the legal expert for the Belarusian Association of Journalists Volha Siakhovich.
In her statement, Tsikhanouskaya said that a nation could not and should not be hostage to one man's thirst for power. Other briefers repeated their grave concern over the human rights violations in Belarus.
The event was co-sponsored by UN Security Council members United States and the United Kingdom, as well as Iceland, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Ukraine and Denmark. The event was open to all UN member states. In total, more than 30 UN member states made statements, as well as the head of the European Union's delegation to the UN on behalf of the European Union.