Pickets for freedom of all Belarusian political prisoners (updated)
Members of the Human Rights Center
“Viasna”, together with representatives of other civil organizations and
parties file applications for pickets in support of the imprisoned head of the
Human Rights Center “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski and other political prisoners all
They intend to hold pickets at least in 17 cities of Belarus on 4 August, as Ales Bialiatski was detained on 4 August 2011 and subsequently sentenced to 4.5 years of imprisonment for alleged tax evasion.
Human rights defenders and civil activists wear T-shirts “Freedom to Ales Bialiatski” to express their protest and demand an immediate release of all political prisoners.
Civil activists Siarhei Housha, Viktar Syrytsa and Viktar Meziak applied to the city executive committee for authorizing thee picket in support of Bialiatski and other political prisoners, which they intend to hold at 5.00-6.00 p.m. on 4 August in the old culture and recreation park in Kamsamolskaya Street. The organizers undertook to protect the public security and health during the event and clean the territory after the end of the action.
Participants of the Coordinative Board of Democratic Forces, while taking the decision to direct representatives to the joint sitting of the Vitsebsk Region Executive Committee and the Vitsebsk Region Council at which constituency election commissions were formed, also decided to file a joint application for authorization of a picket on 4 August, at which they indent to demand cessation of the political prosecution of Ales Bialiatski. The application was filed to the Orsha City Executive Committee in the morning of 10 July.
On 11 July human rights defender Uladzimir Tseliapun addressed the Mazyr District Executive Commtitee and the Mazyr District Concil with the request to authorize a street procession in the center of the city dated to the first anniversary of the imprisonment of the head of the civil association “Human Rights Center “Viasna”, vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights Ales Bialiatski.
Before this, he applied to the Mazyr District Police Department, the central polyclinic of Mazyr and the communal utilities with the aim to conclude service agreements (according to ruling of the Mazyr District Executive Committee #1202 of 15 September 2009, organizers of mass events must conclude such agreements to ensure the guarding of the events, medical assistance to their participants and cleaning of the territory after their end).
However, these institutions refused to conclude the service agreements as there is no decision of the Mazyr District Executive Committee about the rules of payment of the expenses. They forwarded the applications to their deputies, who, in their turn, promise to give answers in a month in conformity with the Law “On applications of citizens”. Taking into account that applications for the authorization of mass events must be filed at least in 15-days' advance, one needs to start all this paper work 2-3 months before an action.
Having no desire to wait for the bureaucratic runarounds of the Mazyr officials, on 7 July U. Tseliapun applied to the head of the Homel Region Executive Committee Uladzimir Dvornik, asking to order the regional justice department to put ruling #1202 of the Mazyr DEC in line with the Law “On mass events” by providing “a clear, concrete and precise procedure of the practical realization and exercise of the rights and interests of citizens, guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus”.
Uladzimir Tseliapun also reminded Mazyr authorities that the determination of the “Spartak” stadium as the only place for mass events doesn't correspond to the publicity and the sense of a street procession. As it can be seen from the photo, the stadium is closed almost all the time.
On 12 July civil activist Siarhei Latsinski applied to the Babruisk City Executive Committee with the request to authorize a picket in support of Ales Bialiatski and other political prisoners.
“In my application I asked them to determine the place for the action, as usually actions aren't authorized for this reason,” said Siarzhuk Latsnski. “I think that about 100 people can come to the picket.
The time of the action is 3.00 – 5.00 p.m. on 4 August, the time when Ales Bialiatski was arrested.
Babruisk organizers also undertook to save the public security and provide medical services during the action.
Biaroza activists joined the nationwide action in support of the imprisoned head of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski and other political prisoners. They filed an application for holding a picket at 12.00 a.m. - 2.00 p.m. on 4 August with the aim to protest against the imprisonment of Ales Bialiatski and other political prisoners.
On 11 July Brest activists joined the action by filing an application for holding a picket under the slogan “Freedom to political prisoners!” to the Brest City Executive Committee. They intend to hold the action on 4 August to mark the first anniversary of the imprisonment of the leader of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski.
“Many people are kept behind bars for political reasons. It concerns me directly, as the head of the organization which I am a member of, Ales Bialiatski, has spent almost a year in prison by this time. The action was appointed on 4 August, as this is the day when he was convicted and imprisoned,” said the member of the HRC “Viasna” Uladzimir Vialichkin.
The application was filed on behalf of Uladzimir Vialichkin, the head of the Brest regional branch of the United Civil Party Uladzimir Vuyek and the head of the Brest regional organization of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) Ihar Maslouski.
On 10 July Hrodna human rights defenders Uladzimir Khilmanovich and Viktar Sazonau filed an application for holding a picket in support of Ales Bialiatski and other political prisoners on 4 August in Kalozhski park (one of the places which was officially determined by the city authorities suitable for mass events).
They have already held a number of actions in support of Ales Bialiatski since the time of his arrest.
On 10 July a collective application for holding a picket in support of Ales Bialiatski was filed by his colleagues Leanid Sudalenka and Anatol Paplauny, as well as by a former head of the Homel City Executive Committee Sviatlana Holdade.
“We intend to hold the picket on 4 August – Ales Bialiatski was detained on this day a year ago. We intend to hold this mass event with the aim to turn the attention of the population to the problem of political prisoners, not only of Ales Bialiatski, whom we consider to be unlawfully convicted,” stated Sudalenka.
As stated by human rights defender Sviatlana Lapitskaya, an application for holding a picked was filed due to the need to express a public protest against the imprisonment of the well-known human rights defender Ales Bialiatski for his activism.
The application was filed to the Zhodzina City Executive Committee by human rights defender Aliaksei Lapitski. The activists intend to hold the picket at 6.00-7.30 p.m. at the entrance of the city park. In their application they stated their intention to additionally inform the Zhodzina District Police Department about the action in order to implement the legally required measures of security during the action.
On 10 July human rights defenders Barys Bukhel and Aliaksei Kolchyn filed an application for a picket to the Mahiliou City Executive Committee. They intend to hold the action opposite the city executive committee on 4 August in order to remind Mahiliou residents that they human rights defender Ales Bialiatski has been kept behind bars for a year already.
“We chose the place which is most suitable for picketing. It is always busy and there is also always enough space. Moreover, during the latest presidential election as many as four electoral pickets could be seen there at one. It means that there are no reasons to ban pickets at this place,” said human rights defender Aliaksei Kolchyn.
The applicants stated that in the case of refusal they would appeal the decision of the authorities and try to inform the population about the imprisoned human rights defender Ales Bialiatski by other means.
It's worth mentioning that at present there is only one officially determined place for mass events in Mahiliou – the “Khimik” stadium on the city outskirts.
The refusal was really issued to them on 13 May due to the indication of an “improper place” for the action. Barys Bukhel said that not only the picket ban, but also the ruling about determining “Khimik” as the only place for mass events, would be appealed at court. Aliaksei Kolchyn, in his turn, stated that an appeal would be also filed to the UN Human Rights Committee in case the appeals to all court instances of Belarus would given no results.
On 10 July human rights defenders Eduard Balanchuk and Ales Kaputski applied to the Maladechna District Executive Committee to hold a picket dated to the anniversary of the imprisonment of Ales Biliatski on 4 August in order to protest against the imprisonment of Bialiatski and other political prisoners.
“The fabrication of the criminal case against the leader of the Belarusian human rights movement, the founder and the head of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski, who is also the vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights, and his imprisonment cause anxiety and indignation. These actions of the authorities contradict to the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international legal undertakings of the Republic of Belarus and its Constitution and are inadmissible and shameful for the whole country.
We definitely perceive the criminal case against Ales Bialiatski as lynching and revenge for his long-standing human rights activism, as well as an attempt to destroy the Human Rights Center “Viasna” and intimidate the whole human rights movement of Belarus,” reads their application.
According to Ales Kaputski, judging by the general political situation and his own experience, the attempt to receive a permission for the picket will, most probably, be unsuccessful, as the authorities can draw any reasons for the ban.
An application for a 4 August picket in support of the imprisoned head of “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski was filed on 11 July by human rights defender Zmitser Salauyou and an activist of the Belarusian Popular Front Uladzimir Kuntsevich.
On 10 July representatives of the civil society and the political parties of Rechytsa Aliaksandr Kastsiuchenka, Valery Putsitski and Aleh Shabetnik stated their intention to held a picket with the aim to protest against the criminal persecution of human rights defender Ales Bialiatski and demand his immediate release from jail.
They intend to hold the action on 4 August at the entrance of the Rechytsa Culture Palace.
Besides, applications for 4 August pickets were also filed in Vitsebsk and Smarhon.