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Cablegate: Osce Permanent Council: Statement On Belarus

VZCZCXRO9065
PP RUEHAST RUEHFL RUEHLA RUEHMRE RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR
DE RUEHC #2299 3522249
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 172242Z DEC 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 6706
INFO ORG FOR SECURITY CO OP IN EUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS STATE 132299

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM BY OSCE
SUBJECT: OSCE PERMANENT COUNCIL: STATEMENT ON BELARUS

1. (U) Post is authorized to present the following statement
at the December 18, 2008 Per1. Post is authorized to present
the following statement at the Permanent Council in Vienna on
December 18.

Begin text:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The United States takes note of the efforts of the government
of Belarus to hold a roundtable on media freedom and to allow
two independent newspapers into state distribution networks.
We will monitor the situation closely for follow-on actions
to bring about genuine media freedom in Belarus. We also
noted that President Lukashenka has asked the government to
study OSCE/ODIHR recommendations on electoral reform. We will
again watch the situation closely, looking for concrete steps
that improve the electoral environment in Belarus ahead of
upcoming presidential elections.
Other developments, however, strike us as not at all
promising. Only days after the OSCE adopted a ministerial
declaration commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirming our
human rights commitments, Belarusian police dispersed
demonstrations marking international Human Rights Day and
detained dozens of activists -- including nine who were
handing out copies of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights.
Human rights defenders continue to be prosecuted for
exercising their right of non-violent protest. On December
9, youth activist Alyaksandr Barazenka was sentenced to one
year of house arrest for participating in an entrepreneurs,
rally in January.
Such behavior is an outright flouting of the Government of
Belarus, international commitments to respect universal
human rights. Mr. Chairman, we call on the government of
Belarus to honor its international obligations and
commitments to respect the human rights and fundamental
freedoms of its citizens, and to promote democracy in
Belarus. Steps toward genuine democratic reform and respect
for human rights have the possibility of significantly
improving relations between the United States and Belarus.
We are also concerned and disappointed that the OSCE Office
in Minsk has not reported on these recent events. We urge
the Office to strengthen its focus on the promotion of core
OSCE values in Belarus.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
End text.
RICE

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