STATEMENT of Human Rights Center Viasna concerning terror campaign towards opposition-minded people
The Human Rights
2 January 2011
The Human Rights Center Viasna expresses its strong protest against the beginning of the terror campaign in Belarus towards dissidents and political opponents of the government.
Starting from 19 December 2010, the country was flooded with political repression. On 29-30 December 22 people who are kept in the KGB jail were formally charged under parts 1 and 2 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (organization and participation in mass riot), including five presidential candidates: Andrei Sannikau, Mikalai Statkevich, Aliaksei Mikhalevich, Uladzimir Niakliayeu and Vital Rymashevsky. In addition to the presidential candidates, the charges were brought against the leaders of their campaign teams, journalists and other prominent opposition activists. The restraint in the form of two-month detention was chosen for all of them.
At least nine more people are also in the status of suspects in the criminal case on the riot, including two presidential candidates – Ryhor Kastusiou and Dzmitry Us, as well as two citizens of the Russian Federation.
The Chairperson of the youth organization Young Front Dzmitry Dashkevich and its activist Eduard Lobau are still kept in the pre-trial prison in Minsk on suspicion of malignant hooliganism.
More than 200 people are still kept in prison, serving administrative arrests for participation in the protest rally in Minsk on 19 December and the subsequent actions of solidarity with political prisoners. More than 700 people have been arrested or fined for the ten last days.
Human Rights Center Viasna is particularly concerned with information about the use of torture, psychological pressurization of detainees and the absence of medical care.
Starting from 20 December there began mass searches and interrogations of activists of opposition political parties, civic organizations and independent media. Hundreds of opposition activists, representatives of independent civil society and journalists have been threatened and harassed by the KGB and the Interior Ministry.
Premises of human rights organizations were searched in Minsk and in the regions. The authorities are trying to discredit the activities of human rights defenders in the eyes of the society.
The lawyers who defend the accused in the criminal case concerning the mass riot are pressurized as well.
The Human Rights Center Viasna expresses its strong protest over the outbreak of the Belarusian authorities of the mass political repression in the country and declares:
- the election of the President of the Republic of Belarus was not a free and democratic. The election results announced by the CEC in no way reflect the real will of citizens of Belarus.
- the protest rally against the undemocratic and non-free election was peaceful. The people who gathered in central Minsk, had peaceful purposes, and sought to peacefully express their opinions and protest.
- The incident with the smashing of windows in the building of the House of Government was not prevented by law enforcement agencies. The demonstrative non-action of the Interior Ministry, a large number of whose workers was present in the Nezalezhnastsi Square, points to an organized provocation by the authorities.
- The actions of the police to disperse demonstrators were clearly disproportionate to the character of the action. The use of physical force and police gear led to a large number of wounded members of peaceful protest.
- The attack of security services in civilian clothes on the presidential candidate Uladzimir Niekliayeu and his supporters was clearly provocative and lawless.
- The beating and arrest of virtually all presidential candidates, Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s opponents, is nothing but political violence.
- The initiation of a criminal case under part 1 and 2 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code (mass riot) is used only for a long-term isolation of the leaders of the opposition pro-democracy movement, as well as for pressurizing and intimidating the country’s civil society, independent media and journalists, as well as all dissidents in the country.
The Human Rights Center Viasna demands the immediate release of all prisoners and cessation of repressions against opposition leaders and activists, civil society and independent media.
The Human Rights Center Viasna expresses solidarity with all those arrested for their views, their family members and encourages members of the Belarusian public and the international community to support the repressed people.
The Human Rights Centre Viasna urges the governments of the European Union, the United States and international organizations to condemn the repression and massive human rights violations in Belarus and to take all possible measures for their immediate cessation.