Belarusian PEN-center Demands Reconsideration of Zdvizhkou’s Case and His Release
Statement of the Belarusian PEN-center
The deputy editor of the Belarusian independent newspaper Zgoda (Згода) Aliaksandar Zdzvizhkou was convicted for three years of imprisonment in a convict colony of medium security. He was arrested for the criminal offense of reprinting the Danish caricatures of the prophet Mohammed. He was convicted according to art. 130, paragraph 2 of the Criminal Code “Stirring up religious enmity”.
The criminal case against Mr Zdzvizhkou and the newspaper Zgoda was started in 2006, on the eve of the presidential elections in Belarus. He was accused of printing the caricatures of Mohammed previously published in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posted. Zgoda was closed down and the criminal case against Zdzvizhkou could not be closed due to his absence at certain stage of the investigation. The Court decided on suspending the investigation due to that reason.
Mr Zdzvizhkou was arrested on November 18th, 2007, on his arrival to Barysau, where he came to see his father’s grave. Since then the journalist was detained in the KGB confinement cell, not being allowed to see his lawyer. The law proceedings were held behind closed doors. However the final part of the sentence was made public on January 18th, 2007 by the judge Ruslan Aniskievich.
Belarusian PEN-centre sees the verdict unexampled, politically motivated and absolutely inadequate to the reaction of the international community for the reprint of the above mentioned depictions — including in some Islamic countries. Belarusian PEN insists on revising the case and Zdzvizhkou’s immediate release. We call for support to our requirements, listed in the application, and encourage to speaking in journalist A. Zdzvizhkou’s defense.
Bielarusian PEN applies to send this application to Vaclav Havel, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Umberto Eco.