Valiantsin Stefanovich: Belarusian authorities continue anti-HR rhetoric
During a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on August 11 the chairman of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus Uladzimir Andreichanka said that mutual support on key issues for the two countries would successfully defend their interests in the UN.
“Our countries have many common interests, determined by the similarity of positions, including on the international agenda. Interaction between Belarus and Pakistan in the framework of the United Nations is weighted and constructive. In addition, together we oppose the use of human rights issues as a tool of political pressure on sovereign states," he said.
On this occasion, Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" Valentin Stefanovich said that such rhetoric is repeatedly voiced in the speeches of official representatives of the state, including at the UN General Assembly, and is used by high-rank officials including the Foreign Minister of Belarus Uladzimir Makei.
"Belarus constantly criticizes Western countries, that they try to impose something on us, whereas we have our own peculiar way. However, human rights are universal, and must not be violated either in France, Belarus or any other country. For instance, forced labor remains forced labor, be it used in Pakistan, the US or Belarus. There's no surprise that Belarus has repeatedly criticized for its human rights record by the main international organizations, such as the UN and the OSCE, that the tool of special rapporteurs has been used towards Belarus,” says the human rights activist.
"If the government is making efforts not to violate human rights (and they are broken in different countries, but to the different extent), this is one situation. But if the government thinks that someone is forcing it and putting pressure, then it just mustn't allow such violations!" he adds.
Mr. Stefanovich stressed that the idea of cultural relativism is very popular among the states that are most criticized for human rights violations.
“Pakistan is a vivid example: the government of this country has always been heavily criticized by human rights activists for the death penalty (the country is among the world's leaders in the number of executions), violations of civil and political rights in various fields, adverse discrimination (including discrimination of women), and many other issues,” stresses Valiantsin Stefanovich. “But, of course, those who use human rights issues in order to "put pressure on the state, conducting an independent policy" are always to blame.
The human rights activist reminds about the symbolic fact that in 201 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Malala Yousafzai, a schoolgirl from Pakistan, who has been struggling for the right to education for Muslim girls and women and has almost lost her life for it.
"Will the Pakistani authorities still say they are pressured?!" asks the human rights defender.
Mr. Stefanovich also remembered a somewhat similar statement of the head of the Central Election Commission Lidziya Yarmoshyna during her speech at the OSCE conference in Vienna, where he had taken floor as well.
“In Vienna she said that international observers should not be used to exert pressure on independent states. Please, just follow the recommendations of the OSCE ODIHR, hold democratic and free elections, then there will be no criticism. It's that simple. And if you want to cheat, as you normally would, then such criticism will follow inevitably," summed up the human rights activist.