By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
The use of excessive force and human rights violations against defenseless citizens in Belarus was the topic of a debate on Friday in Geneva before the UN Human Rights Council.
The debate took place within the 45th Session of the Human Rights Council and was entitled “On the Situation of Human Rights in Belarus.”
Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations also addressed the Council.
Holy See appeals for peaceful resolution
In his remarks, Jurkovič said that the Holy See has been following the situation in Belarus since the elections took place. He said the Holy See “ renews its appeal for a peaceful and just resolution to the tensions through sincere dialogue, the rejection of violence, and respect for justice and fundamental human and civil rights.”
He recalled the recent visit of Archbishop Richard Paul Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States which took place from 11 to 14 September. Through that visit, “the Holy Father has demonstrated a particular and tangible solicitude for the whole Country and especially for the local Catholic Church,” the Archbishop explained.
He expressed the hope that Gallagher’s visit might “bring about a deeper understanding of the ecclesial mission of the Church and of the instrumental role that it plays in fostering social reconciliation and national cohesion.
Protesters should be heard
Specifically addressing the protests taking place, Jurkovič expressed the Holy See’s position that “it is indispensable that demonstrators present their requests in a peaceful way. It is also necessary that governing authorities exercise restraint and listen to the voices of their citizens and remain open to their just aspirations, assuring full respect for their civil and human rights.”
These words are an echo of Pope Francis’s words after the Angelus this past Sunday.
Holy See willing partner in further dialogue
Jurkovič ended by saying that the Holy See desires a “peaceful and rapid resolution to the ongoing tensions.” To that end, he said the Holy See remains open to being a part of “any further discussion that might bring about such much needed peace.”