Review of Human Rights Violations for March 2003
Human Rights Center "Viasna" (Belarus)
Monitoring of Human Rights Violations in Belarus – March 2003
The Public Association “Human Rights Center “Viasna” states that the election to the local Deputy Soviets of the 24th Convocation, held in Belarus in March 2003, didn’t meet the principles of democracy and openness of the electoral process. In March 2003 Belarusian authorities imposed the especially strict limitations and often violated the civil right to peaceful assemblies, guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights pacts, ratified by the Republic of Belarus. Especially disturbing is the fact that none of the detained action participants were justified.
1. Administrative Arrests for Participation in Peaceful Street Actions
On 12, 23 and 25 March 2003 the police detained many participants of peaceful manifestations that didn’t present any threat to the public order. 38 persons were judged. 24 were imprisoned, 6 –fined, 8 – warned.
On 12 March in Minsk the social action People’s March “For Better Life!” was held. Judges of Minsk Savetski Borough Court Aksana Reliava and Ruslan Kazadayew sentenced all of the action organizers to the maximal term of imprisonment, 15 days. Here’s the list of prisoners:
1. Andrey Sannikaw (international coordinator of Charter’97)
2. Zmitser Bandarenka (coordinator of Charter’97)
3. Liudmila Hraznova (coordinator of Charter’97 on human rights)
4. Leanid Malakhaw (co-Head of the Public Association “Private Property”)
On 17 March Minsk Savetski Borough Court tried the voice-Head of the BPR Party Yury Khadyka, detained near his house in the morning. As a result, the police report against him was sent back for correction .
On 23 March in Minsk the first action devoted to the 85th anniversary of Declaration of Belarusian People’s Republic was held. On 24 March the persons, detained at it, were tried at Minsk Leninski Borough Court. The following sentences were made:
1. Valiantsin Baranaw – 14 days of jail
2. Dzianis Dashkevich (citizen of Homel) – 3 days of arrest
3. Yury Fabishewski – 10 days of jail
4. Zmitser Filipovich – 15 days of jail
5. Valiantsin Malyshka (citizen of Baranavichy) – 5 days of arrest
6. Aleh Miadzvedzew – 10 days of jail
7. Mikola Miatselski – 3 days of jail
8. Pavel Seviarynets – 10 days of jail
9. Viachaslaw Siwchyk – 15 days of jail
10. Pavel Znavets – 10 days of jail
11. Uladzimir Yukho – 7 days of jail
1. Leanid Dzeyka – 20 minimal salaries
2. Zmitser Halka – 20 minimal salaries
3. Kanstantsin Mironaw – 20 minimal salaries
4. Siarhey Papkow – 20 minimal salaries
5. Anatol Rybkavets – 20 minimal salaries
6. Mikalay Stotsik – 20 minimal salaries
1. Sviatlana Nikolenka
2. Aksana Novikava
4. Aleh Sahadzin
5. Tatsiana Sandovich
6. Aliaksandr Shramko (Orthodox priest)
7. Natalia Vasilevich
Cases of the persons, detained at the action of 25 March, detained at the second celebration of the 85th anniversary of Belarusian People’s Republic, were considered at Minsk Savetski Borough Court:
1. Yawhen Afnahel – 15 days of jail
2. Zmitser Barodka – 5 days of jail
3. Uladzimir Kishkurna – 15 days of jail
4. Aleh Korban – 5 days of jail
5. Leanid Navitski – 5 days of jail
6. Vintsuk Viachorka – 10 days of jail
7. Ihar Vinnikaw – 5 days of jail
8. Tatsiana Yalavaya – 5 days of jail
On 27 March Hrodna Leninski Borouh Court Sentenced Mikola Voran to 7 days of imprisonment, who participated in teh peaceful Freedom Day Celebration on 23 March and presented a speech in front of the building, where in 1918-1919 the government of the Belarusian People’s Republic was Situated.
2. Non-objectivity of Court Decisions
Minsk Savetski and Leninski Borough Courts didn’t justify any participants of the participants of peaceful mass action in March 2003. On the contrary, they made groundlessly violent sentences even in the cases when the guilt of defendants wasn’t proved and there were contradictions in testimonies of police witnesses. Defendants weren’t informed about their rights before the beginning of the trials, judges groundlessly rejected petitions about summon of witnesses and watching video materials.
3. Problem of the Missing in Belarus
Minsk Tsentralny Borough Court refused to consider the complaint of Volha Zavadskaya, mother of the missing ORT cameraman Zmitser Zavadski against the Prosecutor’s Office that suspended investigation of Zmitser’s abduction. Volha Zavadskaya is sured that her rights as a victim were violated: she wasn’t even familiarized with the suspension ruling. She demanded renewal of the investigation and punishment of the criminals. In his written answer to the complaint Judge Piatro Kirkowski informed V. Zavadskaya that the court wouldn’t consider her complaint. He proposed her to complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office against its own actions.
"Reporters without Borders" and Belarusian Association of Journalists called to renew the investigation of the disappearance of the ORT cameraman Zmitser Zavadski. On 27 February Ivan Branchel, Head of the investigative group, informed Zavadski's wife, Sviatlana, about the decision of the authorities to stop the investigation in connection with the fact that "the missing person hasn't been found". Zmitser Zavadski disappeared on 7 July 2000. Journalist organizations applied to Ivan Branchel with the letter, informing him that this decision violated international legislative norms and deprived the Zavadskis (Zmitser's wife, mother and son) of the right to know the truth. "Reporters without Borders" and Belarusian Association of Journalists think that the trial that ended up on 16 July 2002 with the life sentence to Valery Ihnatovich, ex-Head of the special purpose brigade of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, neither put light to the concrete circumstances of the abduction, nor found the persons who ordered the crime.
4. Inhumane or Violent Treatment
Anton Kishkurna, son Uladzimir Kishkurna, detained at the action of 25 March, was detained and beaten on 26 March near the building of Minsk Savetski Borough Court, when he came to the trial over his father. The police took Anton Kishkurna to Minsk Savetski BBIA and drew a report, accusing the detainee of violating Article No. 166 of the Code of Administrative Violations of the Republic of Belarus – disobedience to legal demands of the police. Later on Anton’s advocate Siarhey Tsurko came to the BBIA. As a result, a medical expertise was held which found that the policemen had broken one of the detainee’s arms.
5. Activation of Secret Services
On Friday 21 Mach 2003, members of the BPF branch of the town of Voranava (in Hrodna region) congratulated the town teachers and pupils. In the morning they distributed the postcards with the national emblem “Pahonia” and white-red-white flag. During one of the breaks pupils found them on the window-sills of the corridors. They took some for themselves and presented to their teachers as well. The frightened administration called the local police in order to find who distributed the postcards. Representatives of the district KGB board arrived as well. They interrogated the pupils till the end of their classes.
6. Obstacles to Public Organizations
At night between 29 and 30 March unknown persons robbed the office of the public association "Frantsysk Skaryna Belarusian Language Society". Having smashed the window, they got into the room where the BSL newspaper "Novy Chas" is modeled, they stole the database from the editorial computer. This database included the materials of the newest newspaper number that was ready for printing and included materials from the All-Belarusian Assembly of Intellectuals, that took place in Minsk on 16 March.
7. Violations of Principles of Democracy, Clearness, Openness and Publicity during Election into Local Deputy Soviets
The election into the local Deputy Soviets of the 24th Convocation again proved the necessity to change the acting electoral legislation so that it could conform with the international standards of elections. The reason for such conclusions was violation of the following principles: formation of the electoral commissions, independent from administration bodies, equal opportunities to candidates during the electoral campaign, non-usage of the administrative resource and clarity of all stages of the electoral process.
PUBLIC ASSOCIATION "HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER "VIASNA"
E-mail: email@example.com, www.spring96.org