DETENTIONS IN ZHODZINA ON KNOWLEDGE DAY
On September 1, 2003 members of Zhodzina branch of the Belarusian Language Society and its partner organizations “Litsviny”, and Young Front collected signatures in support of the National Belarusian Lyceum and against the russification policy of the authorities.
Let us remind you, that the local authorities did not permit the picket at this place, motivating their decision by the mass event, which was to take place there. The organizers filed a complaint against the decision to court. They decided not to hold a picket. However, they called on their members to participate in the mass event, dedicated to the Day of Knowledge, by collecting signatures and spreading out information materials.
They had no problems with collecting signatures. Zhodzina residents readily supported the initiative of Zhodzina BLS. They learned about the existence of the Program of the Education Ministry, which is practically not executed in Zhodzina, and were surprised by the events around the National Lyceum.
The atmosphere was very warm and positive. However, the signature collection was stopped for 30 minutes. “Somebody” from the city administration gave an order and the police detained Alaksei Lapitski, head of Zhodzina BLS and one of the activists “to receive written explanations”.
Police officer Anatol Nekrashevich, who detained them, explained he had been ordered to stop signature collection and detain the activists.
Before the eyes of passers-by BSL activists were ordered to get into the police car and taken to a police station. There they had to wait for about 10 minutes. Then Alaksei Lapitski was called to the room. Police head Siarhei Haro explained the detention by the need to get first-hand information of what was happening on the place of the banned picket.
Zhodzina BLS head gave detailed answers to all the questions, demonstrated a sample of the distributed information materials and explained why it was illegal to prohibit a picket. The police head understood the situation and agreed with Lapitski. He let the detained leave the police station. Anther detainee, who participated in signature collection, did not have to answer any additional questions. The police took them both to the place where they had been detained.
In spite of bad weather and obstacles, made by the local authorities, Zhodzina activists managed to collect about 300 signatures of Zhodzina residents.
Zhodzina organization of the Belarusian Language Society plan to continue the campaign in support of the Belarusian Lyceum and insist on execution of the Program of the Ministry of Education.
t/f: 375 (01775) 75910,
e-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://licviny.narod.ru/
Information Department of the Human Rights Center "Viasna"