Ukraine and another 28 countries have signed the joint statement, in which they blame Belarusian government for the decision to shut down the Internet in Belarus. The text was published on the website of the US Department of the State on September 17.
"We, the signatories, are deeply troubled by and condemn the recently reported and ongoing use of partial and complete Internet shutdowns, as well as targeted content blocking, by the Government of Belarus in the aftermath of the fraudulent 2020 Belarusian presidential elections. Shutdowns and blocking or filtering of services unjustifiably limit the rights of peaceful assembly and freedoms of association and expression, especially when they lack procedural fairness and transparency. In conjunction with restrictive measures and intimidation employed against opposition candidates and the mass arrests and detentions of Belarusian civil society members and journalists, actions to limit access to the Internet, including social media and other digital communication platforms, further erode civic space. We will continue to stand with the people of Belarus, who are making their voices heard in spite of these oppressive measures, and we are especially heartened by the critical and central role women are playing in calling for fairness and accountability", reads the document.
The countries' representatives who signed the paper claimed that human rights must be protected online just as much as they should be protected offline. "We call on Belarusian authorities to refrain from Internet shutdowns and blocking or filtering of services and to respect Belarus’s international human rights obligations, including under articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We call on the Government of Belarus to respect civic space, including respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law", the statement says.
The paper was signed by United States of America, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine.
On August 9, when presidential election took place in Belarus, a number of social networks were shut down in Belarus - Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, WhatsApp, as well as Viber, Belarusian internet media and thousands of other web sites. The block was lifted several days after that, with the government claiming that the connection disappeared due to the cyber attack.