Minsk: Riot Police Don’t Let Believers Meet Their Pastor on His Release from Jail

2006 2006-03-13T10:00:00+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

At 12.20 a.m. on 13 March ended the 10-day arrest term for the pastor of Minsk protestant church Zapavet Chrysta Heorhi Viazouski. He was sentenced to it for unauthorized mass.

’I believe in God and faith can’t be hidden behind bars’, said the pastor. ‘Why people are imprisoned for reading the Bible? This verdict is completely lawless, because the Constitution guarantees to me the right to serve God. This right is also guaranteed by the international agreements that were signed by the Republic of Belarus’. Mr Viazouski also expressed his conviction that the court decision was predefined. ‘The police and workers of Minsk City Executive Committee stood at the court entrance for about 30 minutes before the beginning of the trial and talked about something. I think that someone ordered to issue such verdict’, said the pastor.

About 30 believers gathered near the detention center in Akrestsin St. to meet the pastor. They were rudely pushed away to the bus stop Prylukskaia by the riot police. Only Viazouski’s parents and wife were let to come closer. The incident was preceded by a talk of the police major with the believers. He asked them not to make any ‘provocations and demonstrations’. ‘Several minutes later there appeared about 20 riot policemen and started to shepherd us as kettle’, said the believer Mikhail Artsiuk who came to the meeting from Vaukavysk. Some believers also came there from Vialeika and Hatava. The pastor’s wife thanked to the people for the support.

The religious association of the churches of Complete Evangel adopted public statement in connection with the arrest of the pastor. ‘What public danger and to whom the believers who gather for prayers can present? What can be said about the constitutional rights of citizens in the case people are punished for joint prayers and Biblical readings? We pray for our brother Heorhi Viazouski and call upon the state organs to act wisely and soberly in the field of religion’ - wrote the believers.