The U.S. delegate to the United Nations hinted Monday at additional sanctions against Belarus, telling the U.N. Human Rights Council that the Belarusian “regime’s oppression knows no bounds.”
The U.S. levied sanctions against members of the Belarusian government in June in response to the forced diversion of a Ryanair flight to Minsk in May to arrest dissident journalist Roman Protasevich, who was aboard the flight.
“Such contempt for international norms cannot go unanswered,” U.S. Charge d’Affaires Ben Moeling said. “That is why the United States joined the EU, Canada, and UK in imposing new sanctions on June 21 and will consider further actions as necessary.”
Mr. Moeling called the episode a “sickening display” in comments Monday.
The comments come as an independent expert appointed by the council, Anais Marin, on Monday released a report detailing a broad, aggressive crackdown on dissents led by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Ms. Marin’s report details further examples of Mr. Lukasenko’s crackdown since the spring of last year leading up to the Belarusian president’s highly contested election in August, including allegations of detention, torture, rape, disappearances and killings carried out against dissidents.
“The Belarusian authorities have launched a full-scale assault against civil society, curtailing a broad spectrum of rights and freedoms, targeting people from all walks of life, while systematically persecuting human rights defenders, journalists, media workers and lawyers in particular,” Ms. Marin told the council.
“The crackdown is such that thousands of Belarusians have been forced or otherwise compelled to leave their homeland and seek safety abroad; yet the downing of a civilian plane in Minsk on 23 May, for the apparent sole purpose of arresting a dissident who was on board, signaled that no opponent to the current Government is safe anywhere,” she said.
Mr. Moeling told the council that more than 500 political prisoners are currently being detained by Belarusian authorities.