The European Disability Forum calls on all EU institutions and international organisations to act swiftly to ensure the safety and security of persons with disabilities and their families in Belarus.
Since August 2020 the Belarusian people have protested peacefully against a falsified election and they must be supported in their efforts.
Belarusian authorities have responded with a well-documented escalation of state violence, which goes against the respect for human rights as laid out in the Belarussian Constitution and in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which Belarus is party since 2016.
Persons with disabilities are among those who have peacefully protested and who have been detained and denied reasonable accommodation in detention.
Civil society organisations working to create an inclusive society in Belarus for persons with disabilities have called for
- The release of all persons detained while peacefully protesting and political prisoners
- A thorough investigation of all violence against citizens including people with disabilities
- Immediate end to intimidation of citizens with disabilities and their families for participation in peaceful protests
- The holding of new, fair, and accessible elections with participation of independent observers
- The application of the Constitution of Belarus and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
COVID 19 and its impending economic impact add fear to the disability community of what their future will be, which is compounded by the fear of retaliation for peaceful protest and self-advocacy.
EDF fully endorses the demands expressed by the disability movement in Belarus.
The EU plays an important role in the long-term support of civil society organisations and organisations of persons with disabilities in Belarus. All EU support to upcoming dialogue processes and democratic developments, including elections, should ensure the full inclusion of and accessibility to persons with disabilities and support to their organisations. The human rights dialogues between the EU and Belarus must continue and include persons with disabilities and their representative organisations to strengthen international cooperation in the field of disability rights and inclusion.