Human rights activists speak against language discrimination in Belarusian army
Representatives of the Human Rights Center Viasna have addressed Belarusian Minister of Defense and Prosecutor General with a demand to put an end to illegal harassment of Private F.Viachorka and other Belarusian-speaking soldiers for using Belarusian during military service.
The appeal says:
‘We, Belarusian human rights activists, have to address you in connection with the information in a number of mass media reporting of threats with criminal prosecution and consequent summary punishment by the command of military unit #48694 to be imposed on Private Franak Viachorka. According to the information we have received the threat of punishment was caused by F.Viachorka’s use of one of the state languages of the Republic of Belarus – the Belarusian language.’
The human rights activists stress that the case of F.Viachorka, as well as that of D.Khvedaruk, who were harassed for using Belarusian, are deemed as an outrage against the constitutional rights of Belarusian citizens. ‘Meanwhile, we would like to stress that the orders by Franak Viachorka’s command Senior Lieutenant Dzianis Kazak by the consent of acting commander of the military unit Uladzimir Ihnatsik to force F.Viachorka to speak Russian were illegal and absolutely insulting. Article 20 of the Law on Languages states that both Russian and Belarusian can be used in the Belarusian army. None of military legal acts or regulations provides for the use of Russian only,’ says the appeal.
Thus, ‘prosecution of a Belarusian citizen for using Belarusian is nothing but language discrimination.’