Motion for a resolution - B9-0339/2021Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the systematic repression in Belarus and its consequences for European security following abductions from an EU civilian plane intercepted by the Belarusian authorities

7.6.2021 - (2021/2741(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statements by the Council and the Commission
pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Pedro Marques, Tonino Picula, Robert Biedroń
on behalf of the S&D Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0328/2021

Procedure : 2021/2741(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the systematic repression in Belarus and its consequences for European security following abductions from an EU civilian plane intercepted by the Belarusian authorities


The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Belarus, in particular those of 26 November 2020 on the continuous violations of human rights in Belarus, in particular the murder of Raman Bandarenka[1], and of 17 September 2020 on the situation in Belarus[2], and its recommendation of 21 October 2020 to the Council, the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on relations with Belarus[3],

 having regard to the declarations by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on behalf of the EU, in particular that of 24 May 2021 on the forced diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978 to Minsk on 23 May 2021,

 having regard to the European Council conclusions of 24 May 2021 on Belarus,

 having regard to the joint statement of the G7 Foreign Ministers and the High Representative of 27 May 2021,

 having regard to the report of the Moscow Mechanism rapporteur of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) of 5 November 2020 on alleged human rights violations related to the presidential election of 9 August 2020 in Belarus,

 having regard to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, signed on 7 December 1944, and the Montreal Convention for the suppression of unlawful acts against the safety of civil aviation, concluded on 23 September 1971,

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas on 23 May 2021 Belarusian authorities, upon the direct order of Alexander Lukashenko, intercepted Ryanair flight FR4978 from Athens shortly before it was leaving Belarusian air space to land in Vilnius and diverted it to Minsk airport under the pretext of a fake bomb threat, thereby gravely endangering international aviation security and the safety of all passengers and crew members on board;

B. whereas, upon landing, Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich and his partner, Russian student Sofia Sapiega, were detained and prevented from continuing their flight to Vilnius together with the majority of the other reportedly 170 passengers on board the flight;

C. whereas Raman Pratasevich – co-founder and former editor-in-chief of the opposition Nexta channel, a major source of independent information for Belarusian citizens – has contributed to disclosing the regime’s systematic repression and serious human rights violations and had lived in exile in Poland and Lithuania since 2019 in order to avoid persecution and fabricated criminal charges; whereas his unlawful detention and inhuman treatment by the Belarusian regime, including forced confessions in a staged interview broadcast by the Belarusian state television, are of the greatest concern to the international community and underline the urgency of coordinated international action, in particular since Belarus remains the only European country that still applies capital punishment, and is therefore not a member of the Council of Europe;

D. whereas this incident of an intercepted civilian aircraft is an act of state terrorism, which does not only constitute a serious breach of international conventions in the area of aviation safety, but also highlights the international consequences of the continuous and incessant repression in Belarus for security in Europe and unmistakably demonstrates that the regime has become a threat to international peace and security;

E. whereas, as a consequence of the abduction of Raman Pratasevich from an EU civilian plane flying between two EU capitals, Belarusian opposition activists exiled in EU Member States now fear for their personal safety while the people of Belarus continue risking their lives for political and personal freedom and suffer from continuous violence and repression by the state authorities, including well-documented torture and ill-treatment;

F. whereas on 31 May 2021 Belarus announced a severe tightening of already strict rules limiting citizens’ ability to exit the country, essentially blocking all land border crossings; whereas the Russian Federation has detained several Belarusian opposition activists who fled to Moscow and continues to support the Belarusian regime; whereas these latest developments, together with the intercepted EU civilian plane, may further endanger the personal safety, health and life of Belarusian citizens under repression and fleeing the country;

G. whereas the people of Belarus have been enduring state-ordered violence and repression, including torture and ill-treatment, ever since protests broke out after the massively falsified presidential election of 9 August, and thus for already 10 months by now; whereas this has been accompanied by continuous violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including workers’ rights, and a continuous crackdown on civil society organisations and independent media outlets, online platforms and journalists, as exemplified by the crackdown against the most influential online media outlet;

H. whereas the OSCE Moscow Mechanism rapporteur, in his report of 5 November 2020, assessed the serious violations of human rights committed by the Belarusian authorities in response to peaceful demonstrations and protests as massive, systematic and proven beyond doubt;

I. whereas the systematic repression in Belarus already accounts for more than 470 political prisoners, as documented by the human rights centre Viasna, for more than 35 000 people who have been detained or fined, for more than 3 000 criminal cases for participation in anti-government protests opened against peaceful citizens, for over 4 000 documented cases of torture and ill-treatment, and already for the loss of life of several people;

J. whereas manifold reports indicate an escalation of repression against political prisoners in Belarus who are subject to inhuman and life-threatening detention conditions and torture; whereas activist and political prisoner Vitold Ashurak died in prison, allegedly a victim of a heart attack, and Stsiapan Latypau attempted suicide in the courtroom after investigators threatened to prosecute his family and neighbours if he did not plead guilty of inciting social unrest;

K. whereas human rights activists and opposition figures such as Pavel Sevyarynets Yauhen Afnahel, Andrei Voinich, Maksim Viniarski, Pavel Yukhnevich, Dzmitry Kazlou and Iryna Shchasnaya were sentenced to up to seven years in prison on fabricated charges of extremism while other activists are likely to face similar sentences in the near future;

1. Urges the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich and his partner Sofia Sapiega as well as all other political prisoners and persons detained for their participation in protests against the electoral fraud, violence and repression or for their expressions of support for these protests; strongly condemns and demands an immediate end to the violence and repression by state authorities in Belarus, and in particular the unlawful detention, torture, ill-treatment in detention and criminal prosecution of peaceful citizens, and expresses its support and solidarity with Belarusian society;

2. Calls for a thorough and careful assessment of the consequences of abductions from an intercepted civilian plane, not only for international air transport and aviation safety but also for overall security in Europe and, above all, the safety of Belarusian citizens exiled or seeking shelter or asylum in EU Member States; in this regard, notes the safety directive issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on 2 June 2021 calling on EU Member States to mandate avoidance of Belarusian airspace as well as the Council decision of 4 June 2021 banning the overflight of EU airspace and access to EU airports by Belarusian carriers of all kinds;

3. Expresses its utmost concern about the systematic repression in Belarus, which has been ongoing ever since the protests began after the massively falsified presidential election of 9 August 2020, as well as about the outright terror against the entire population and the atmosphere of impunity in the country;

4. Calls for the swift and effective investigation into and consistent prosecution of all perpetrators of the unparalleled brutality against protestors, those supporting the protests, independent journalists, bloggers reporting on them and simple bystanders, as well as against trade unionists, students, women’s organisations and representatives of national minorities;

5. Urges that, in the absence of Belarusian authorities’ willingness to establish rule of law and accountability, the international community must take action to help secure evidence of crimes and ensure investigation and prosecution of those responsible throughout the full chain of command and until the highest state level;

6. Welcomes the initiatives by several EU Member States to apply the universal jurisdiction principle and compile and prepare court cases against Belarusian perpetrators of repression and encourages all other EU Member States to follow their example; calls for active support for all international initiatives that seek to address the impunity in Belarus, such as the International Platform Against Impunity and the Justice Hub in Vilnius; calls for Belarus’s membership of Interpol to be suspended;

7. Calls on the Council to swiftly agree and implement economic sanctions, which must be substantial and have, as much as possible, an immediate effect on the Belarusian regime, its supporters and the economic actors that continue to ensure the survival of the regime; calls for these economic sanctions to target state-owned banks and enterprises directly controlled by the regime or closely entangled with the regime’s business interests through a personal network or known for dismissing their employees for participating in strikes or protests; calls for sectoral sanctions to target in particular the crude oil and oil-product, potash, steel and wood-processing industries, and also for the cigarette smuggling business to be investigated and addressed, as it has become an important source of revenue for the Belarusian regime; furthermore calls for a termination of cooperation and financing for Belarusian state-owned banks and for limiting credit lines from international banks for subsidiary banks in Belarus;

8. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to strictly deny any financial support to the Belarusian regime and therefore to refuse any new credit lines to Belarusian banks and to halt any investments into infrastructure projects or economic undertakings in Belarus; calls on the Commission to adopt measures to prevent European financial institutions from acquiring bonds or any other financial instrument issued by the Belarusian Government and affiliated public institutions; welcomes the fact that the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have suspended financing of projects in the Belarusian public sector and calls for an investigation into how the unused funds can be reoriented towards civil society and the private sector where it is not related to the regime; calls on the International Monetary Fund and the EU Member States not to provide direct budgetary support to the regime under any circumstances, and to refrain from using the special drawing process announced for 2021;

9. Reminds all EU businesses operating in Belarus of its previous call to exercise particular diligence and uphold their responsibility to respect human rights, in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: in addition, asks them to refrain from any new investment and to also publicly protest against the Belarusian authorities’ ongoing repression in the country; underlines that no software, riot gear or any other type of equipment that could be used by the regime to further inflict violence and oppression should be exported from the territory of the EU to Belarus or from subsidiaries of EU companies operating in third countries;

10. Calls on the Council, the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) to closely coordinate the economic and sectoral sanctions with like-minded partners such as the US, Canada or the UK and to seek cooperation with and broad alignment by the EU’s partners, in particular in the European neighbourhood such as Ukraine, in order to achieve the highest possible impact of the sanctions on the Belarusian regime;

11. Calls on the Council to swiftly adopt additional restrictive measures against a substantially larger number of Belarusian officials responsible for repression, torture and ill-treatment, including judges, prosecutors, police, prison service staff, members of parliament and government, and agents working for the regime in the areas of propaganda, media, disinformation and hate-speech, taking into account that more than 35 000 peaceful Belarusian citizens have already been detained or fined and more than 3 000 criminal cases were opened for the peaceful participation in anti-government protests while not a single criminal case was opened against state officials involved in the repression; recommends that the Council include those who participated in the recent interception of an EU civilian plane, such as intelligence officers and aviation authorities;

12. Underlines the need to maintain and expand contacts and cooperation with representatives of Belarusian democratic forces in Minsk, Vilnius and Warsaw, and in particular with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and members of the Coordination Council and National Anti-Crisis Management; therefore, joins the calls to invite their representatives on the occasion of the G7 summit of 11-13 June 2021 and the Eastern Partnership summit in 2021 and recommends continuing to invite them to high-level bilateral meetings at governmental level, as well as to parliamentary sessions and interparliamentary meetings, and to create groups dedicated to Belarus in all national parliaments of the EU Member States;

13. Urges the VP/HR, the Commission, the Council and the EU Member States to continue raising the situation in Belarus in all the relevant European and international organisations such as the OSCE or the UN and its specialised bodies with the aim of securing urgent international action on the situation in Belarus and overcoming the obstruction of Russia and other countries to such action;

14. Calls on the Commission to continue providing urgent humanitarian assistance to all persons targeted by repression, as well as to their families; calls on the Member States and their consular offices in Belarus to continue to grant visas for humanitarian and educational reasons; calls on the Member States to implement the recommendations of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism rapporteur in relation to granting asylum in cases of persecution covered under the Geneva Refugee Convention and to further facilitate the procedure for the issuance of emergency visas and provision of temporary shelter in EU countries; reiterates its call on the EU delegation and national diplomatic representations in Belarus to closely monitor the situation and trials of political prisoners, to offer them and their families any support they may need and to coordinate their efforts to secure their swift release; in this regard, calls on the regime to put an immediate end to any actions tending to intimidate or harass the members of national or European diplomatic services, in line with Belarus’s international obligations under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, and particularly in relation to diplomatic services’ missions to gather information on human rights abuses and politicised trials of activists;

15. Calls on the Commission and the VP/HR to determine, together with the UN, the OSCE and international partners, concrete assistance that the EU could lend to international efforts for the organisation of a high-level international conference on the resolution of the crisis in Belarus, for the investigation and prosecution of crimes by the Belarusian authorities against the people of Belarus and an OSCE-led mediation role;

16. Reiterates its call for the EU to lead the organisation of an international donors’ conference for a democratic Belarus, which would bring together international financial institutions, G7 countries, EU Member States and institutions, and others willing to pledge a multi-billion euro financial package to support future reform efforts and the restructuring of the economy; regrets that so far no measures have been undertaken in this regard; welcomes the Commission’s EUR 3 billion economic support package to support a future democratic Belarus;

17. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase their support to independent Belarusian media outlets, including projects on YouTube and Telegram channels;

18. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the authorities of the Republic of Belarus.


Last updated: 8 June 2021
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