Statement presented by Mrs. Irina Krasovskaya
Geneva, March 24th
Recent developments of disappearances in Belarus
WE REMEMBER was created as a civil initiative in Belarus in 2002. It is an independent public organization which affiliates family members of victims of political kidnappings occurred in Belarus in 1999-2000.
Our mission is disseminating truthful information about politically motivated disappearances of Belarusian citizens and informing the world community about the situation in the country. As an ICAED member WE REMEMBER also follows the aim to fight for the world without disappearances.
WE REMEMBER openly condemns the government of Belarus for disappearances of political opponents of the regime, violations during the electoral process, pressure exerted on the civic society and repressions. Actions and pickets organized by WE REMEMBER serve now as they will do in the future as a constant reminder that the issue of enforced disappearances will never be left behind.
WE REMEMBER has offices in the USA and the Netherlands. We have partners in Minsk (Dmitry Zavadsky Foundation), Warsaw (European Belarus and Charter'97), and London (Free Theater).
Situation on disappearances in Belarus remains the same for the last 15 years. On one hand it is good because no political disappearances had occurred recently. On the other hand it is bad because the political situation remains the same - dictatorship - and we cannot find the truth about disappearances occurred in 1999-2000 in Belarus.
Political situation in Belarus has seriously deteriorated since presidential election of 1994. The so-called president is on visa ban list and sanctions from the US and EU since 2006. Today Belarusian authorities use new mechanisms to stop people from political activity – arrests, harassments, long-term imprisonment. That is why my friend Vlad Kobets who is here today and other my friends from Charter 97, Free Theater, European Belarus had to leave the country and seek asylum in Poland, Great Britain, France, Lithuania, Estonia and the US.
There is no real investigation of the involuntary disappearances in Belarus. Every 3 months families get the identical letter from the Prosecutor’s office saying that investigation is still in progress. Unfortunately we cannot see any resultsof their “investigation”during 15 years. That strategy of the Belarusian authorities cannot fool international organizations. We've managed to reach very strong resolutions on disappearances in Belarus from different international organizations which we cooperate with, such as: United Nations Human Rights Committee, Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances and the International Parliamentary Union (IPU).
We won the case in the UN HRC established under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In April 2012 The Human Rights Committee concluded that Belarus had violated its obligation to properly investigate and take appropriate remedial action regarding Mr. Krasovsky’s disappearance. The HRC requested Belarus to provide the victims with an effective remedy, including a thorough and diligent investigation and prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators. The Human Rights Committee further required Belarus to provide adequate information concerning the results of the investigation, as well as adequate compensation to the authors of the complaint. Belarus was given 180 days by the Human Rights Committee to submit information about the measures taken pursuant to its decision. Two years have passed after the decision of the Committee. No reaction from the Belarus authorities so far.
The Belarusian authority refused to comment on any of international organizations’ statements on the cases of the disappearances.
WE REMEMBER actions to remind about the cases of the disappearances
On September 16th 2008 in Eindhoven, twin city of Minsk in years 1995-2012, four trees were planted to commemorate the four disappeared Belarusians. Since then every year on September 16th the ceremony of commemoration of the four disappeared Belarusians takes place in front of the four trees at the Paradijslaan in Eindhoven.
Often we combine the actions on disappearances with other "political" actions. As a matter of example – campaign against death penalty “Give a Body Back” which was launched in London and in Amsterdam in October 2013. The campaigners had a range of demands:
- abolition of death penalty in Belarus,
- completion of the investigation of the cases of the kidnapped persons and return of their bodies to the families,
- return of the bodies of the executed to their families,
- release of the political prisoners.
WE REMEMBER efforts in campaigning for the Convention for the Protection of All Persons Against Enforced Disappearances
We participated in all campaigns initiated by ICAED. We've initiated a number of own actions and followed initiatives of partner organizations:
- Sending letters to the governments of Canada, Nepal, ElSalvador, Egypt campaigning for signing and ratifying the Convention.
- Sending a letter of support of Northern Korea Human Rights organizations to the US State Department, White House, representatives of the United States to the UN.
- Printing and distribution the brochure “Convention NOW!” in cooperation with Dmitry Zavadsky Foundation and other organizations in Belarus.
- Participating in the UN events onnected to problems of disappearances (event dedicated to 20 anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons From Disappearances in October 2012 in Geneva; the international experts meeting «Gendered Impacts of Enforced disappearances» in Addis Ababa in April 2012).
- On August 30th 2012 the International Day of Disappeared was organized in the Hague, Netherlands by Tadeush Kostushko Foundation, campaign European Belarus and civil initiative We Remember in front of the Belarusian Embassy..
- We try our best to publish the Coalition news and statements on our web-site www.ciwr.org in Russian and English.
Suggestions on ICAED strategies
- To work for legal status of the ICAED. We believe it will bring more opportunities for fundraising and operation and widen the circle of members and supporters of the ICAED.
- To focus more on fundraising: to learn from the experience of other coalitions and to hire the professionals/experts.
- To organize every 2 years (or more often if possible) the Conference and aim for the maximum participation of the members of the Coalition.
- To create and distribute a brochure with necessary information and description of the ICAED’s activities.