News for 23 Feb 2009

23.02.2009 Valyantsin Stefanovich: Any convicted in Process of Fourteen could become next arrested

A well-known Belarusian human rights activist has commented to the Cgarter’97 press-centre the arrest of the underage participant of the Process of Fourteen Maxim Dashuk.

“As it turned out today, another political prisoner Maxim Dashuk was arrested,” Valyantsin Stefanovich said. “It is important to note that since the case of Shydlouski-Labkovich minors haven’t been arrested on political grounds (minors Alyaksei Shydlouski and Vadzim Labkovich were arrested on August 25, 1997 for painting “political” graffiti on the walls of housed in the town of Staubtsy, Minsk region, and for removing the state flag from the building of Staubsty district executive committee. – Charter’97). And Dashuk and Dubski were seized on political motives. They were persecuted for participation in the rally of market vendors on January 10, 2008, for expression of their position, realizing their right for freedom of expression”.

Aliaksandr Milinkevich speaks in support of Nasha Viasna

23.02.2009 Aliaksandr Milinkevich speaks in support of Nasha Viasna

Aliaksandr Milinkevich, Belarusian politician who was nominated by the leading opposition parties in Belarus to run against Lukashenka in the presidential election on 19 March 2006, commented on the situation with the registration of the Nasha Viasna human rights organization. ‘Nasha Viasna is the leading Belarusian human rights NGO with an excellent history. Its members specialize in various kinds of human rights activities – monitoring human rights violations, providing assistance to individuals and organizations. And I think it is very important that this association be granted registration.

23.02.2009 Europarliament delegations says Belarus keeps violating human rights

Lithuanian MEP Laima Liucija Andrikiene, who initiated the visit, told reporters that they had come to see the situation in Belarus with their own eyes. She described the visit as brief, intensive and important.

According to her, within six hours, the delegation met with the ambassadors of EU member countries; Dzmitry Yermalyuk, head of the Belarusian foreign ministry’s European integration department; Uladzimir Serpikaw, director of the ministry’s European cooperation department; Zhanna Litvina, chair of the Belarusian Association of Journalists; and opposition leaders, including Vintsuk Vyachorka, Pavel Sevyarynets and former presidential candidates Alyaksandr Milinkevich and Alyaksandr Kazulin.

23.02.2009 Maksim Dashuk prosecuted again

One of the persons involved in the so called ‘case of 14’ Maksim Dashuk has been detained and put to Minsk investigatory detention center. He is accused of violating Article 415 of the criminal Code of Belarus for evading the completion of sentence. He is likely to remain in prison until the trial. The under-aged Maksim Dashuk had previously been sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment for participating in the 10 January 2008 action. According to representatives of the police, Dashuk had repeatedly broken the house arrest regime.

23.02.2009 Babruiski kurier under pressure from Ministry of Information

According to a letter received by the Ministry of Information, the Ministry has promised to ‘take measures’ against the editorial board of the Babruiski kurier independent newspaper in case it ‘continues to violate the legislation’. The threat is based on a claim by Barusik town authorities stating that the newspaper ‘groundlessly forms a negative public opinion of the local authorities’ and offense the honour and dignity of the police. The Ministry asserts that the newspaper ‘distorts the facts and makes groundless generalizations.’ It also reminds that the Babruiski kurier has already received a warning and a second warning may result in its liquidation.

23.02.2009 Activists detained for celebrating Mother Language Day

Homel Thsentralny Borough Court sentenced Kastus Zhukouski to 7 days of arrest for participating in a Mother Language Day action in downtown Homel. Vasil Takarenka, Marysia Tulzankova and Ales Viartseika were fined BYR 700,000 each. The teenagers were standing in the center of Homel holding posters with the words ‘Mother Tongue’ and a Russian phrase ‘Banned’ across. Their mouths were covered with green and red ribbons. NB: International Mother Language Day, celebrated annually on February 21, aims to promote the recognition and practice of the world’s mother tongues, particularly minority ones.

23.02.2009 Belarusian border guards search EHU students

Activist of the “Young Front” Zmitser Yasevich, returning to Belarus after an exam session in European Humanities University, was searched on the border.

Zmitser’s personal belongings were examined carefully, border guards were especially interested in information in his laptop.

After a search border guards asked Zmitser where he lived and studied – in what university, on which faculty, they even asked how the activist passed the session.

“They obviously had an order for a search – a female border guard spoke with someone before the search,” Zmitser Yasevich says. “I faced such unpleasant searched before, but this has been the first one, for a period of the “liberalization”, for the last six months.”

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