Andrei Zhuk’s mother addressed Belarusian president asking to pardon her son
Struggling for the life of her son, Andrei Zhuk’s mother is trying to use all possible means including the international mechanisms and personal address to the president. On 10 November Sviatlana Zhuk addressed Aliaksandr Lukashenka through mass media, asking to pardon her son, the death verdict to whom came into force after consideration of the cassation complaint by the Supreme Court.
‘Yes, Andrei is guilty. Of course, he had no right to deprive these people of life in any circumstances. However, now I see that my son is killed before my eyes, and I don’t want and cannot put up with it. He and we, his relatives, will till the end of our days beg the victims’ families and God to pardon him for this vile sin. I want to ask the president to give Andrei a chance to expiate his guilt by work and try to earn the pardon of the victims’ families,’ explained Sviatlana Zhuk during the press-conference in Minsk.
The event was attended by the representative of the Human Rights Center Viasna Valiantsin Stefanovich, an initiator of the campaign Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty, and the representative of the international human rights organization Amnesty International Heather McGill, expert on Belarus.
In her speech Heather McGill voiced the opinion of the international human rights community that Belarus must refuse from this inhuman kind of punishment.
‘One of the problems is the suffering the death penalty brings to the convicts’ relatives. The decision of the UN Human Rights Committee of 1999 equals the secrecy surrounding the death penalty in Belarus to torturing the relatives. The death convicts don’t know when they will be shot and their relatives don’t know anything at all about them. It is a terrible ordeal for the people. It is also quite hard for the convicts who are waiting to be brought to execution. It is terrible for the relatives who know nothing. They cannot say goodbye, receive any belongings and the body and won’t be informed where it was buried,’ stated H.McGill.
The human rights defender Valiantsin Stefanovich took the floor after Andrei’s mother read her address.
‘It is difficult to say anything after the mother’s words. This situation demonstrates the essence of the death penalty. At present the state is slowly killing the son before his mother’s eyes. Of course, the parents suffer a great pain and loss and live waiting for the moment when it can happen. That’s why we, human rights defenders, stand for introduction of the moratorium on the death penalty in our country and think that the right time for it has come. We have submitted communications to the UN Human Rights Committee concerning the latest death sentences – to Vasil Yuzepchuk and Andrei Zhuk. These communications were accepted for consideration. Then we sent written addresses to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Presidential Administration to inform them that the communications have been registered by the Committee and these organs, that bear the legal responsibility for execution of sentences, must suspend the execution of these death sentences till the consideration on the merits of the communications by the UN Human Rights Committee,’ said Valiantsin Stefanovich.
Here’s the text of Sviatlana Zhuk to the resident of Belarus:
To: President of the Republic of Belarus
Aliaksandr Ryhoravich Lukashenka
From: Sviatlana Mikhailauna Zhuk
We, relatives of Andrei Siarheyevich Zhuk, sentenced to death, apply to You with the request to pardon him.
You are a loving father of three children. At present we have just two sons and hope that this number won’t decrease. Our elder son, brother, nephew, grandson, husband and father Andrei Siarheyevich Zhuk was sentenced to death for a murder. It is a great grief for us to bury our near and dear, and even more the father or mother. It is terrible and painful to suffer such a loss. It is even harder to look in the victims’ eyes and see censure in them.
Of course, Andrei had no right to deprive innocent people of their lives in any circumstance. He and we will spend the rest of our days begging the relatives of the dead, and first of all the orphaned children and God to pardon him for this vile sin.
However, on 29 October 2009 the Supreme Court issued a verdict not only to Andrei, but also to all of us, to his family. Our life turned into a nightmare. We fall asleep and wake up in cold sweat, give a start from every telephone call or rustle and are tired of the people whispering behind our backs: ‘Here’s the mother (father, brother) of the murderer’. However, we can live through this, the more that Andrei has already repented to God and the relatives of the killed people.
However, imagine the feelings of the mother, who bore the child for nine months and, together with the father, gave him all she could, to learn that soon he will be shot. It is equal to burying oneself alive. Imagine the feelings of the small children to find that their father, Andrei, will soon be killed and they will never see him again, even through glass and won’t hear his voice in the receiver in the meeting room. They won’t have the opportunity to right him a letter, as he will be no more. How hard it will be for his younger brother, to whom Andrei has always given support and who is the godfather of his elder son, a precise outward copy of Andrei, to look the boy in the eyes.
Yes, we grieve together with the victims. We have the same non-healing wound in our soul. We would very much like to see their relatives alive. God save everyone from such grief.
But Andrei is a near and dear man for us. We, his relatives know that he is not an outright scoundrel. Otherwise we wouldn’t address You with the clemency petition.
Andrei grew up as a good, active, responsible and hardworking child. He is a loving grandson, father, husband and brother. He has always helped to friends and relatives and was ready to share his last crust with us.
He actively participated in matinees and children’s feasts. He loved his and everybody else’s children very much. This love was mutual. Can a bad man deserve children’s love? Children feel it outright, who is a friend to them and who is not. Andrei has two small children, who love their father very much and hope to meet with him someday.
Dear Aliaksandr Ryhoravich, we ask You to give him a chance to see his children at least someday at a great age, ask to give him a chance to expiate his guilt and earn the forgiveness of the victims’ families with labor.
10 November 2009