News for May 2009

29.05.2009 Official Minsk ignores recommendations by international HR experts

Belarusian human rights activists appreciate the impartiality of the international human rights organizations’ annual reports, but at the same time they stress that such reports do not directly affect the situation in the field of human rights in the country. The main problem is that the Belarusian authorities do not react on them. The impartiality of the Report. According to the human rights activist Valiantsin Stefanovich, it is fair that it was the violations of the people’s rights to the freedom of speech and assembly that the Amnesty International considered the most brutal HR violations in Belarus in 2008, for the year was marked by a number of politically motivated criminal trials over Andrei Kim and Siarhei Parsiukevich, as well the ‘Process of 14’, when 14 persons were convicted for participating in a peaceful demonstration.

28.05.2009 Ministry of Justice denies registration to Nasha Viasna again

On 28 May the co-founders of the Nasha Viasna human rights association received a letter from the Ministry of Justice saying the NGO is once again denied registration. The human rights activists think the decision groundless and illegal. The official letter signed by Vice-Minister of Justice A.Bodak named the following facts as the grounds for the refusal: - ‘many of the co-founders of the association have been prosecuted by law, for offences connected with disturbing public order, as well the freedoms and rights of other persons.’ - ‘the list of the co-founders of the association features certain false or distorted data.’ - ‘the second part of the association’s name ‘Nasha Viasna’ does not correspond to the Charter of the organization.’ The Ministry of Justice also accuses Nasha Viasna of ‘obstructing’ the registration body’s inspection of the accuracy of the application documents.

28.05.2009 Amnesty International: Freedom of speech and civil activists persecuted in Belarus

The annual report of the international human rights organisation Amnesty International says that the situation with human rights in Belarus hasn’t changed: peaceful rallies are brutally disbanded, civil society activists and journalists were harassed.

“The government continued to exert excessive control over civil society. State control over the media increased,” AI experts noted.

“Some public events were banned; peaceful demonstrators were fined and detained for short periods; and civil society activists and journalists were harassed. Belarus continued to hand down death sentences and execute prisoners,” the report of the human rights organisation reads.

28.05.2009 Zmitser Khvedaruk taken to hospital again

“Young Front” activist Zmitser Khvedaruk, forcefully drafted into the army, has been taken to the Belarusian Military Hospital.

The guy, who has problems with ear, is to spend 10 days in hospital expects the weekend, when he won’t undergo medical procedures, mfront.by writes.

It should be reminded that on January 28, 2009, “Young Front” activist from Minsk Zmitser Khvedaruk was guarded to the military enlistment office, and then to a prison in Akrestsin Street allegedly for serving a punishment for participation in a rally on May 1, 2008. It became known later that there wasn’t a court decision. Nevertheless, Khvedaruk had to spend two days in prison.

28.05.2009 Oppositionist expelled from university for graffiti “Freedom to Autukhovich!”

“Young Front” activist Pyotr Ruzau was expelled from Baranavichy State University.

On May 12, the student of the Faculty of Finance and Law got an appropriate order signed by the rector. The document says the reason for expulsion is “violation of internal regulations”, press service of “Young Front” reports.

Ruzau was fined for drawing graffiti “Freedom to Autukhovich!” on the wall of the meat-processing factory.

“KGB and militia officers have visited the university several times this year, they threatened to expel me for my public activity. The trial for graffiti was obviously the last drop,” Pyotr Ruzau told.

27.05.2009 Investigation of businessmen’s case to be extended

According to the human rights activist Aleh Volchak, the investigation of the case against the three businessmen from Vaukavysk Mikalai Autukhovich, Yury Liavonau and Uladzimer Asipenka may be extended for another month. He also said Autukhovich had been interrogated on 26 May. Investigator Vital Kukharchyk mentioned illegal possession of explosives and firearms, which are likely to be added to the list of charges against the entrepreneurs. At the same time, the human rights activist thinks ‘the investigation lacks airtight evidence against the accused.’ ‘Had they had the evidence, the case would have reached the court, which is what the businessmen insist on,’ said Mr.Volchak.

27.05.2009 Prison administration accepts parcel for Autukhovich

On 27 May a number of human rights activists made a successful attempt to pass a parcel to the imprisoned Mikalai Autukhovich. According to Uladzimir Labkovich, the parcel contained a TV antenna, a chess set and batteries. However, the prison security still refuse to accept drinking water. The human rights activists say the refusal is illegal, for neither the law nor regulations by the Ministry of the Interior provide for any restrictions pertaining the content of parcels for convicts.

27.05.2009 Another convict for General Zakharanka memorial rally

On 26 May Homel Tsentralny Court convicted another participant of the 7 May General Zakharanka memorial picket in downtown Homel. The human rights and pro-democratic activist Anatol Paplauny was summonsed to the court after he had refused to let a policeman in his private house.

27.05.2009 Zeltser still in prison. Authorities dragging out his amnesty

Belarusian courts say they don’t have claims to American national Emanuel Zeltser serving a term in a Belarusian prison.

A notice from the Belarusian court has been sent to the penal colony this week, and lawyer Zmitser Harachka expected the commission to consider documents on amnesty of the US national in a week.

“The amnesty is used within six months. In our case the problem is that we need a no claim certificate from the court. The certificate has been sent to the colony this week. The Belarusian court confirmed the state and individuals do not have any claims to Zeltser. The commission has sessions every Wednesday. We don’t have time to present our documents this Wednesday, so a question on amnesty will be considered next week,” lawyer Zmitser Harachka told “Belorusski Partizan”.

27.05.2009 Amnesty International coordinator met with leader of embattled New Life church

On May 26 a meeting of Amnesty International coordinator on Belarus Lars Bünger with the pastor of Minsk-based charismatic New Life church Vyachaslau Hancharenka (Vyacheslav Goncharenko).

The sides discussed the situation with the congregation. The human rights activist from Switzerland has arrived in Belarus on a three-day visit.

As noted by Vyachaslau Hancharenka, Lars Bünger asked about the details of the recent events around the church and offered its leadership to stay in contact with him constantly.

27.05.2009 Investigation of demolition of crosses in Kurapaty extended

Investigation of the criminal case of destruction of six memorial crosses in Kurapaty was extended till June 20.

BelaPAN has learnt this from an anonymous officer of the Baraulyany district militia department of Minsk.

The case was instigated on April 20 under part 1 of article 339 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism).

Four crosses were destroyed on the eastern edge of Kurapaty, two on the northern side near Zaslaue–Kalodzishchy road. The broken crosses were found by activists of the Conservative Christian Party BPF in the morning April 17. Militia officers, called to the site, conducted necessary investigative actions, including taking photo, measuring, questioning CCP-BPF activists.

27.05.2009 Illya Shyla fined 625 dollars for covering “School for all” rally

An administrative commission of Salihorsk district executive committee has fined a minor activist Illya Shyla 50 basic units (1 mln 750 thousand rubles) for a picket in which he hadn’t taken part.

The ruling of the commission was passed in absence of the Young Front activist. Illya Shyla finds the decision absurd and is set to challenge it in the court, the website saligorsk.org writes.

As we have informed, on May 5 in the framework of the “School for all” campaign Salihorsk branch of the Young Front held a picket in support of their forcibly drafted leader Ivan Shyla in the central square of the city. Ivan Shyla hadn’t been given an opportunity to finish the school.

EASTERN PARTNERSHIP: TOWARDS CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM

27.05.2009 EASTERN PARTNERSHIP: TOWARDS CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM

Official side-event of the Czech EU Presidency under the auspices of H.E. Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic. International Conference May 5-6, 2009, Prague

26.05.2009 Oppositionists went to law against city executive committee

Pro-democracy activists from Homel demand to declare illegitimate the decision of the city executive committee to ban a meeting dedicated to the 23th anniversary of Chernobyl nuclear power station disaster.

On May 25 Arkadzy Kaluhin, a judge of the Central court of Homel, postponed consideration of the suit proceedings in the action of pro-democracy activists Uladzimir Katsora and Uladzimir Syakerka against city executive committee concerning illegal banning the rally dedicated to the Chernobyl nuclear power station disaster anniversary, Radio Svaboda informs.

26.05.2009 PACE Political Affairs Committee vote to restore Special Guest status for Belarus

The Political Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on May 26 voted to restore Special Guest status in PACE for a delegation from Belarus, which was suspended in 1997, BelaPAN said.

The committee unanimously adopted a report by Andrea Rigoni of Italy on the situation in Belarus.

Mr. Rigoni, who is PACE’s rapporteur on Belarus, proposed that the status be restored provided a mechanism was found for the Belarusian delegation to include representatives of the “extra-parliamentary opposition.”

Goran Lindblad, chairman of the committee who visited Belarus in February, said following that visit that PACE “wants to bring Belarus closer to Council of Europe standards.”

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