BHC alerts UN to Kalesnikava’s forced disappearance
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee has sent a message to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on the situation with the abduction of Maryia Kalesnikava, one of the leaders of the opposition Coordination Council.
In accordance with the mandate of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, it receives, reviews and communicates to States reports of enforced disappearances submitted by relatives of the missing persons or by human rights organizations representing them. The Working Group calls on States to conduct investigations and notify the Working Group of their results. BHC hopes that the submitted message will allow to promptly find out the whereabouts of Maryia Kalesnikava and stop the practice of enforced disappearances of opponents of the current government.
“At the same time, we urge the Belarusian authorities to disclose the whereabouts of Kalesnikava, and if she is held by the authorities, to immediately release and fully ensure her right to defense and other procedural guarantees provided for by international treaties of the Republic of Belarus and national legislation,” BHC says in its message.
“We believe that her abduction is clearly and directly related to the expression of her political views, participation in political activities and the election campaign, in peaceful assemblies and the exercise of the right to freedom of association (participation in the Coordination Council).”
Maryia Kalesnikava was abducted by a group of unidentified people in civilian clothes in central Minsk on September 7. She was shoved into a minibus outside the National Art Museum at about 10 am. During the day, there was no information about her whereabouts, despite appeals from her lawyer and colleagues to the law enforcement agencies. On the morning of September 8, the Belarusian State Border Committee claimed that Kalesnikava was detained while crossing the Ukrainian border at night. Later reports, however, said that the politician ripped her passport to prevent Belarusian security forces from forcibly expelling her from the country. Kalesnikava’s two associates and members of the Coordination Council, Anton Radniankou and Ivan Krautsou, were deported from Belarus the same night. Their arrival in Ukraine was confirmed by the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Earlier, the Belarusian authorities expelled Coordination Council member Volha Kavalkova. Another member, former diplomat Pavel Latushka chose not to return to Belarus after he reportedly received threats of criminal prosecution.