Letter of Coordinators of Charter'97 to Eberhardt Heiken
Dear Mr. Heiken!
We, activists of the public initiative Charter'97, apply to You, asking You to visit the special detention center of the Main Board of Internal Affairs at Minsk City Executive Committee (Minsk, Akrestsin Street, 36) and examine the conditions in this place, where people are kept before trials and when sentenced to administrative arrest for violations of the Code of Administrative Violations of the Republic of Belarus.
To our mind, the conditions of this detention center are much worse than those in prisons and penal colonies of Belarus. The people who are punished for violations of administrative articles, appear to have less rights that the ones, sentenced to jail for felonies. For the time of Lukashenka's rule thousands of opposition activists who participated in mass protest actions were put there. We observe a dangerous tendency – the number of accusative sentences towards the persons who disagree with Lukashenka's politics, is growing. The recent statements by Lukashenka about the strengthening of ideological work in the country witness that the repression will increase.
The OSCE office that works in Minsk is an important fact that doesn't allow the authorities to initiate wide-scale persecution campaign against opposition-minded people. Our experience shows that the authorities have to react to international monitoring of the situation of human rights and liberties, elucidation of human rights violations and attention of authoritative international organizations.
We ask You, Mr. Heiken, to pass the information about the conditions in which prisoners are kept to the appropriate OSCE bodies and put up the question about improvement of these conditions to Belarusian authorities. This can really help the people, who are imprisoned for disagreement with Lukashenka's regime in the conditions that can't be called anything except for BLACK HOLE. At present about 10 people who need help and solidarity are kept there.
Here's the list of the most terrible violations at the detention center:
1. People who are kept there before trial or spend their arrest terms, are not informed about their rights. Information about it is not hanged out in the cells.
2. The temperature in the cells fails to meet any norms. Now it is 5-7 degrees. In summer the temperature is 30-35 degrees.
3. People are put to cells without medical examination. Persons with lice, tuberculosis, scabies and psychical diseases are kept in common cells. People who experience long drinking bouts and therefore can behave aggressively and inadequately, are also placed there."