TALLINN - An independent report initiated by Estonia and other members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) proves the forging of the results of the Belarusian presidential election and violence perpetrated by authorities.
Estonia is among the 17 OSCE states to have proposed an expert mission for investigating human rights violations and electoral fraud in Belarus.
Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu said that it is impossible for Belarusian authorities to ignore such substantial evidence.
"Our position is clear -- the only solution is a free election," Reinsalu said.
In a joint statement made in Vienna, Estonia and other initiator states of the expert mission pointed out claims that have proven founded regarding the Belarusian presidential election being neither transparent, free nor fair. The election contained evident shortcomings, according to the report, and fundamental requirements established on the basis of previous election monitoring were not followed.
The report also proves the use of excessive violence by Belarusian authorities and confirms their participation in torture, abuse and forced disappearances. The document also draws attention to persistent attacks on media freedom and threats against woman activists.
Among the 72 recommendations made in the report, the states underlined the call on Belarusian authorities to annul the results of the Aug. 9 presidential election, align the national electoral law with international standards, cease violence, release political prisoners, guarantee the safety of journalists and refrain from blocking access to the internet.
The first step Belarusian authorities must take in order to overcome the current situation is ending violence against the people of Belarus, releasing all unlawfully detained persons and holding the people behind these acts accountable, the joint statement reads. The states called on Belarus to engage in comprehensive dialogue.
The report, the primary author of which is professor of international law Wolfgang Benedek, is based on extensive evidence, including statements by victims and witnesses, official information and reports by authorities. In their joint statement, the OSCE member states commended human rights activists, journalists and members of the Belarusian civil society for exhibiting significant bravery and strength in rendering the developments in Belarus public.
The states also expressed deep disappointment over Belarusian authorities refusing to cooperate with OSCE and its rapporteur in the framework of the Moscow Mechanism.
"We call on Belarusian authorities to reassess their approach and engage in cooperation," the states said.
Initiators of the independent expert mission as part of the Moscow Mechanism include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Poland, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania.