REVIEW OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN BELARUS FOR OCTOBER 2003
In October the pressurization of civil society increased. The number of the liquidated public organizations is 11, 11 more are being liquidated. Activity of human rights organizations is prohibited. The ideological pressure on youth becomes stronger, they are forced to join youth pro-regime organizations financed by the State. The totalitarian tendencies are observed in Belaus – the State tries to control all spheres of public life, including the right to association and religious freedom.
1. Campaign on Liquidation of Public Associations
On 9 October Judge of the Supreme Court Yakhnavets liquidated the public association “Women’s Answer”. To her mind, the association authorities violated the rights of the legal address registration and then for a long time had no legal address at all, used the wrong seal. Sviatlana Karaliova, Head of the “Women’s Answer” said that this decision can have political motivation: “It seems that some political order is being executed. They fight against me through my organization. I don’t know why they are doing that. May be because I am a member of the United Civil Party or an active person and will take part in the Parliamentary election.”
On 9 October the Supreme Court liquidated the public association “Belarusian Fund “Cassiopeia” on the suit of the Ministry of Justice. The reason for the liquidation was that the organization had received warnings for the incorrect legal address (registered in a private flat) and the incorrect organization blanks.
“Cassiopeia” Head Valiantsina Sviatskaya, says that the real reason for the liquidation is connected with the official politics.
On 16 October the Supreme court of Belarus liquidated the Public association “Lutskevich Brothers Fund” on the suit of the Ministry of Justice. Judge Mikalay Babkow found the organization guilty of law violation during the re-registration in 1999, having of the wrong seal and incorrect juridical address (registered in an apartment house, which is a violation of the Civil and the Housing Codes). “We expected this court decision”, -- said in his commentary the organization Head Anatol Hurynovich. “It was quite clear that we would be liquidated in the present circumstances. The Ministry of Justice would do it athwart all our arguments and documents.” The Fund was established in 1993, maintained scientific, educational, cultural and social activity.
2. Prohibition of Human Rights Organizations
On 1 October 2003 the Justice Board of Minsk City Executive Committee sued for liquidation of the Public association “Independent Society of Legal Research” to Minsk City Court.
On 27 October the liquidation trial of the Public association “Helpful Hand” started at the Supreme Court. This organization gives humanitarian aid to Belarusian prisoners, socially rehabilitates them after prison and psychologically adapts them to free life.
The reason for liquidation of the organization is that the Ministry of Justice didn’t receive any answer to its letter with the demand to present information about the organization activity, sent in July 2003. The Ministry of Justice took the opinion that absence of answer witnessed that the organization office wasn’t functioning in the place of its juridical address.
Ulasta Aliaksiuk, the organization Head, says that the organization didn’t receive the letter, which can be a result of bad functioning of the post or the recent moving to a new juridical address.
On 28 October the Supreme Court of Belarus liquidated Human Rights Center “Viasna”. The formal reason for the liquidation was the warning of the Ministry of Justice, issued in August 2001 for alleged law violations during the Presidential election. Eight members of the organization expressed their protest against by sitting down on the floor of the court hall and chanting “Shame!” . At 5.30 p.m. the police (possibly, special police forces), led the participants of the protest action through the back door of the court and took them to Minsk Leninskaye Borough Board of Internal Affairs. There the reports about violation of Article No. 166 of the Administrative Code of Belarus (?#152;disobedience to legal claims of the police) were composed.
3. Facts of violent, inhumane treatment by duty officials
On 1 October Head of the Republican Public association “Perspecyva” Anatol Shumchanka was violently detained in front of Minsk Economic Court. Women, members of the association, tried to defend its leader. The police started a real fight severely beating some of the women. On October 2 the women filed an appeal with Leninski borough prosecutor’s office, complaining about the actions of policemen in civil clothes. Alena Zhykharava, one of the police victims, wrote in her complaint: “On 1 October 2003, about 10 a.m., near the building of Minsk City Economic Court, I was attacked by 2 strangers in civil clothes. These people were trying to detain my colleague Shumchanka. The people had no badges which would help identify them as policemen. I asked them to identify themselves and explain why they had attacked Shumchanka and were trying to detain him. When they heard my questions, one of them hit me on the back and twisted my right arm. He gripped onto my jacket and threw down onto the sidewalk. I fell down receiving numerous injuries and had my leg dislocated. I tried to get up, but the people who had attacked me, twisted my arm again and threw me back down onto the sidewalk. There were unfenced construction works in this part of the road, with trenches and pieces of broken asphalt all around. When falling down I received numerous traumas on my back again. The same people beat other women standing nearby.
4. Violation of Minimal Norms for Keeping of Prisoners
On 2 October the well-known Professor Yury Bandazhewski, former rector of Homel Medical Institute who spends his prison term in jail, got to resuscitation. He was urgently operated at the hospital of the Committee for implementation of punishments. According to the Committee Head Vasil Zavadski, Bandazhewski had simple appendicitis. The professor’s wife found out about this from relatives of other prisoners on the fourth day of his being kept in the resuscitation.
5. Administrative Punishment for Participation in Peaceful Actions
On 29 October 2003 Minsk Leninski tried the eight members of the Public Association “Human Rights Center “Viasna” who took part in the peaceful action of protest against its liquidation by the Supreme Court of Belarus.
Aliaksandr Bialiatski, Head of the Board of the PA HRC “Viasna”, judged by Aliaksandr Shylko, fined 5 minimal wages (about $40). He demanded a translator into Belarusian or the trial. Judge A.Shulko satisfied the petition;
Aleh Zhlutka, translator of the PA HRC “Viasna”, judged by Alena Tserashkova, fined 5 minimal wages;
Aliaksey Kolchyn, Head of Mahiliow regional branch of the PA HRC “Viasna”, judged by Alena Tserashkova, fined 5 minimal wages;
Uladzimir Labkovich, lawyer of the PA HRC “Viasna”, judged by Zmitser Zhdanok. Judge didn’t satisfy his petition for a translator.
Mikola Lemianowski, Head of Hrodna branch of the PA HRC “Viasna”, judged by Alena Tserashkova, fined 5 minimal wages;
Zmitser Salawiow, Head of Navapolatsk branch of the PA HRC “Viasna”, judged by Zmitser Zhdanok, fined 5 minimal wages;
Valiantsin Stefanovich, lawyer of the PA HRC “Viasna”, judged by Aliaksandr Shylko, fined 5 minimal wages;
Uladzimir Vialichkin, Head of Brest branch of the PAHRC “Viasna”, judged by Zmitser Zhdanok, fined 5 minimal wages.
Judge Zhdanok didn’t satisfy the solicitation of Uladzimir Lankovich for translator into Belarusian, violating his constitutional right to usage of his native language and demanded from the defendant to speak Russian.
6. Interference of Authorities with Activity of Mass Media and Obstacles to Realization of Speech Liberty
The Information Ministry issued a warning to Baranavichy independent newspaper “Mestnaya Gazeta “Shag”. According to Belarusian Association of Journalists, the newspaper is accused of inaccuracies in the imprint, and lack of registration data in the issue containing articles of BDG journalists. If the newspaper doesn’t execute the demand of the ministry, it can be suspended.
7. Disappearance of Politicians in Belarus
During his speech at the seminar for high-level officials A. Lukashenka said: “Don’t believe that somebody or even Lukashenka ordered to kidnap these opposition members. By no means! I can tell you how much I worked with those “kidnapped” ones, how many times I warned Viktar Hanchar and others! He was detained and bags of money were taken out of his car. I tell him: “Viktar, you understand that you will be lynched for it, that this money doesn’t belong to you, you didn’t earn it, you were given it and are to work for it!” This statement is provocative and doesn’t correspond to the reality.
8. Manifestations of Anti-Semitism
At night between 13 and 14 October unknown persons defiled the monument to the Holocaust victims in Lida. A representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs from Lida said that the criminal case on the fact had been already initiated. The Jewish community is concerned with the frequent defilements of monuments and the closure of the International Humanistic University, financed by Jewish organizations.
9. Persecution for Trade Union Activity
The lawyer of Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BCDTU) Uladzimir Adynets was sentenced to 5 days of jail for “disrespect to court”. Judge Nadzeya Rewtskaya found “administrative violation” in the fact that the trade union lawyer didn’t attend the trial where he was to have represented a worker of a private firm. “There wasn’t any reason for the arrest”, -- said the BCDTU Head Aliaksandr Yarashuk. According to him, the juridical status of “plaintiff’s representative” isn’t defined in Belarusian legislation that’s why there wasn’t any juridical ground for imprisoning Adynets. “Arrest of the BCDTU lawyer is a violation of the rights of democratic trade unions”, -- said Yarashuk, who is September was sentenced to 10 days of jail for “disrespect of court”.