The Secretary of State called the decision a consequence of the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken welcomed the Treasury Department’s decision announced Monday to revoke the general license allowing U.S. citizens and companies to conduct certain transactions with nine sanctioned Belarusian state-owned enterprises. All transactions must cease within 45 days.
“This action is yet another consequence of the Belarusian authorities’ blatant disregard for human rights and failure to comply with their obligations under international human rights law,” Blinken said.
The general license was issued by the Ministry of Finance in 2015 and was regularly renewed until 2020 due to the progress in human rights in Belarus, especially the release of political prisoners during that period.
However, as a result of government repression following the rigged presidential election in August 2020, there are currently more than 340 political prisoners in Belarus. “Given the sharply deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus, the U.S. government felt that a further extension was incompatible with the Belarus Democracy Act and American values. The nine state-owned enterprises affected by this decision finance and support the Lukashenko regime, contributing to its brutal repression of the Belarusian people and repeated violations of the rule of law,” stressed the Secretary of State.
According to him, the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus is evidenced by the arrests of public figures such as Sergei Tihanovsky, Maria Kolesnikova and Igor Losik, as well as hundreds of other Belarusian citizens, who have been illegally detained for exercising their rights and freedoms.
“The United States calls on the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those unjustly detained or imprisoned. Moreover, we are committed to working with the international community to continue to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations in Belarus,” said the Secretary of State. – Respect for human rights, the rule of law, and Belarus’ commitments to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe remain key to improving bilateral relations.