Belarusian civil society organizations are courageously speaking out—calling on UN member states to reject Belarus' bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. The statement by the Wives of the Disappeared is below....

Our family members were abducted in the years 1999 and 2000. For many years we have not known the fates of our loved ones and in essence no official investigations are underway. We attribute the fruitlessness of investigations to the lack of desire on the part of the Belarusian authorities to probe these crimes, which reinforces our assumption that those with high positions in Belarus were involved in them.
Numerous UN General Assembly resolutions have demanded that an objective, multilateral, and impartial investigation of the cases of violent disappearances be conducted; that officials that may be involved in them be removed from their posts during the period of the investigation; that they be held to account by an independent court; and, if they are found guilty, that punishment be handed down in accordance with the international obligations of Belarus in the area of human rights. These demands have been persistently ignored by the government of the Republic of Belarus. We view these actions by the Belarusian authorities not only as representing a desire to conceal those who actually ordered and carried out the abductions of our relatives, but as a refusal to recognize the authority of the United Nations.

For this reason, we once again urge that the Republic of Belarus be refused membership in the UN Human Rights Council until such time as our state fulfills its obligations not only before its citizens, but before the international community.

Sincerely,

Zinaida Gonchar, wife of Viktor Gonchar, member of the 12th and 13th Supreme Council of the Republic of Belarus, Deputy Prime Minister in 1994, chairman of the Central Election Commission in 1996 and 1999, serving as chairman of the Supreme Council at the time of his abduction on 16 September 1999.

Ulyana Zakharenko, mother of Yury Zakharenko, Major General, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus from 1994-1996, abducted 7 May 1999.

Olga Zavadskaya, mother of Dmitry Zavadsky, a journalist abducted on 7 July 2000.