REVIEW OF HUMAN RIGHT VIOLATIONS IN BELARUS FOR JUNE 2003
As a result of two suits of the Justice Ministry two public associations that were disloyal to the authorities were liquidated. The Ministry of Education liquidated the unique educational establishment, Yakub Kolas National State Humanitarian lyceum, violating the right of citizens to be educated in their native language. In June 2003 increased the official pressurization of independent mass media and public associations. Freedom of conscience was violated as well.
1. The authorities continued liquidating undesirable influent public organizations
On 9 June the Supreme Court of Belarus ruled to liquidate the democratic youth organization, Republican public association Youth Christian Social Union. The formal reasons were the legal address, registered in the living apartment; the stamp that didn’t correspond to the legislation; violations, which occurred during the organization’s re-registration in 1999 due to the Justice Ministry’s mistakes; contradictions between the organization’s Program and its Statute.
On 17 June Honel Regional Court liquidated the public association “Civic Initiatives”, the largest and the most influent regional organization that covered all 23 territorial districts of Homel region. The formal reason for liquidation was deficient accountancy, the real one – participation in the election to local Deputy Soviets and its monitoring.
2. Pressurization of human rights organizations
On 26 June the Justice Board of Homel REC started the check-up of Homel regional “Viasna” branch. This is the forth check-up, it is still going on.
Taking into consideration development of events connected with a number of large public organizations, such as liquidation of two public organizations on suit of the Justice Ministry and the threat of liquidation over two other ones, Human Rights Center “Viasna” has serious apprehensions that it will be the next to face repressions.
3. Administrative arrests for participation in peaceful street actions
On June 16, 2003 people in civil clothes (having showed no documents) dragged professor Khadyka out of the personal car and told his wife they were taking him to court. Professor Khadyka was taken to Savetski borough court of Minsk. Judge Aksana Reliava informed him she was going to try Khadyka for “disrespect to court”. Yury Khadyka appealed for an advocate. Judge Reliava postponed the case to July 2. However, Khadyka was not let go. Instead, he was taken to Akrestsin jail to serve the sentence for participation in the People’ March on 12 March. On 12 May Judge Kazadayew considered his case in Khadyka’s absence, thus having violated the norms of the Code of Administrative Offences. This happened on the last day of a 2-month period, during which Khadyka could be held responsible. The decision of Savetski borough court was appealed against at Minsk City court, but it left the decision unaltered. According to the legislation, “disrespect to the court” can be punished with up to 15 days of jail.
On 18 June Tatsiana Yelavaya, an activist of the unregistered youth movement ZUBR, was arrested for participation in an action to support the international coalition’s actions in Iraq (the action was held in April near the US Embassy). Tatsiana Pawliuchuk, judge of Minsk Tsentral Borough Court, judged the arrested in her absence (which is a gross process violation) and sentenced her to 10 days of jail. Having spent two days in the detention center, Tatsiana Yelavaya was taken to a hospital and was operated on her nose bridge that got inflamed due to the bad conditions in the cell. T. Yelavaya has complained to Minsk Maskowski Borough Prosecutor’s office against the illegal police actions.
4. Disappearance of public activists in Belarus
In June Minsk Tsentral Borough Court refused to consider the cassation complaint, filed by wives of the missing, Zinaida Hanchar and Iryna Krasowskaya. They complained against the suspension of investigation of Viktar Hanchar and Anatol Krasowski’s disappearance by the Prosecutor’s office.
5. Violation of the freedom of conscience
The Religious Association of Full Gospel Christians appealed to S. Buko, Head of the Committee on national and religious cases with the request to take the appropriate measures to prevent fomenting of religious enmity. The reason for the application were numerous letters to the bishop with description of such manifestations. The application says: “We have repeatedly applied to the Committee on religious cases and other State bodies with the request to take measures to prevent spreading of religious prejudices through mass media and fomenting of religious enmity. Our appeals were connected with numerous libeling publications in “Narodnaya Gazeta” and other printed periodicals, radio broadcasts, demonstration of the “Expansion” film on TV. No State bodies, including the Committee on religious cases, took any effective measures to stop it. Moreover, referring to the expert soviet at the Committee that has no powers to judge about legality of anyone’s actions, reported that the mentioned materials were of scientific nature and didn’t violated anybody’s rights. (…) Referring to the abovementioned facts, I again ask you to take effective measures to prevent appearance of religious exclusiveness and disrespect to religious views of Gospel Christians, punishment of the persons, that created the conditions that favor fomenting of religious enmity.
RAFGC Bishop in Belarus
At night between June 7 and 8 one more act of vandalism was committed against the church “Living Faith”. Somebody wrote on the church wall the word “Antichrist”. Moral and material damage was inflicted. Unknown persons have been already twice breaking the shield at the entrance, the fence, throwing stones into the windows, shouting foul expressions.
6. Interference of the authorities in the activity of mass media and realization of the word liberty
On 28 June Pavel Selin, Head of Minsk correspondent station of the Russian NTV channel, was deported from Belarus. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs he received the notice that he was deprived of accreditation and had to leave the republic in 24-hours’ term. The note in his passports said that he was prohibited entrance to Belarus for five years. The reason for the deportation was his report about the funeral of Belarusian writer Vasil Bykaw. P. Selin informed the TV-audience that Belarusian authorities interfered with the normal ceremony development. The Ministry of Internal Affairs treated the report information as “provocative and false.”
On 19 June S. Nichyparovich, vice-Minister of Information, signed order #109, to suspend “Predprinimatelskaya Gazeta” for two months “due to violation … of the law on press by the editorial staff by publication of corrupt information”. On 23 June the editorial staff of the newspaper (the Unitarian enterprise “Marat”) received by post two documents: the second warning from the Ministry of Information and the mentioned order. According to the editors, the latter one was connected with a number of critical materials against the authorities.
7. Violation of the right to education in native language
On 27 June the unique educational establishment, Yakun Kolas National State Humanitarian Lyceum, was liquidated. The education there was in Belarusian language, its level conformed to European standards. The lyceum was liquidated by the governmental ruling of June 25 and the Ministry order of June 26. Now the lyceum building belongs to the city’s communal economy.