Why are letters to Statkevich destroyed in penal colony in Shklou?
Leanid Haravy, an activist of the human rights and
educational movement “For Freedom!” is looking of an answer to this question. As
it follows from the official answer of the head of Shklou penal colony #17, his
letter to former presidential candidate, political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich,
was destroyed. However, the colony administration didn’t offer any explanations
for this action.
Leanid Haravy said he had sent a letter to Statkevich by registered mail back in the beginning of October, but didn’t receive a receipt confirmation. As a result he had to address the administration of the Shklou colony with a complaint about violation of the right to correspondence with Mikalai Statkevich.
In November Leanid Haravy received a response from the prison head, S. Yarmalitski, that his letter to Statkevich had been destroyed in accordance with Chapter 25 point 143 of the Internal Regulations of penal colonies. No explanations were given. Mr. Haravy considers such actions as unlawful:
"I used only the words and phrases that appear in the information space of Belarus and which are not restricted by law enforcement agencies. The message wasn’t written with the use of cryptography, codes or jargon, did not have a cynical nature, wasn’t aimed at inflicting harm to legally protected rights of government bodies and so on. So I wrote another complaint, requesting a definite answer, and at the same time urged the head of the colony to respond in the Belarusian language."
Mikalai Statkevich was sentenced to 5.5 years in prison and is serving a sentence in Shklou colony. International human rights organizations, the European Union and the USA consider him and other defendants on the “19 December mass riot case” as political prisoners and demand their immediate release.
Leanid Haravy doesn’t exclude the possibility that the practice of destroying correspondence is used towards other political prisoners, but may remain unnoticed if the letters are sent by regular, not by registered mail.