Amnesty International: Activist threatened with rape and torture
Activist and prisoner of conscience Zmitser Dashkevich is being threatened with rape and torture in a penal colony in Mazyr, south-west Belarus, where he was transferred after his sentence on 28 August for allegedly violating prison rules entered into force.
On 26 September, the lawyer and the fiancée of Zmitser Dashkevich visited Mazyr penal colony number 20, where Zmitser Dashkevich arrived on 19 September. His lawyer was able to see him, but his fiancée was not allowed. Visits from relatives had been banned two days after his arrival at the colony. Zmitser Dashkevich told his lawyer that he was being subjected to verbal abuse and threats to his life. Penal colony authorities were threatening him with torture and compulsory psychological medical treatment. In addition, Zmitser Dashkevich was told he may be subjected to rape by his cell mates.
Penal colony authorities told Zmitser Dashkevich’s fiancée that if information about his treatment became public it would directly affect his treatment in the colony and his health. In response to pressure from penal colony authorities and his treatment, Zmitser Dashkevich started a hunger strike on 21 September, which is ongoing. He is not allowed to receive food parcels.
Following his conviction on 28 August for violating prison rules, on 4 September Zmitser Dashkevich was transferred to a prison in Vitebsk where detainees are held on remand. Between 12 and 19 September his whereabouts were unknown. During this time, his lawyer and fiancée tried to visit him several times. They were told that Zmitser Dashkevich was not there, but was being transferred to another detention facility. No further details were offered as to when or where he was transferred. On 14 September the authorities of the remand prison told the lawyer that they didn’t have the official documents regarding his sentence. On 20 September, his fiancée received a letter from the Department of Penitentiary Institutions at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, saying that Zmitser Dashkevich had been transferred to the penal colony in Mazyr.
Please write immediately in Belarusian, Russian or your own language:
- Calling on the authorities to ensure that Zmitser Dashkevich is not tortured or ill-treated by state officials or third parties and reminding the authorities that they have a duty to protect the physical and psychological wellbeing of those in custody;
- Calling on the Belarusian authorities to stop the harassment of Zmitser Dashkevich;
- Reminding the Belarusian authorities that Zmitser Dashkevich is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of his political views and that he should be released immediately and unconditionally, along with all other prisoners of conscience.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 12 NOVEMBER 2012 TO:
Ul. Internatsionalnaya 22
220030 Minsk, Belarus
Fax: +375 17 226 42 52
Salutation: Dear General Prosecutor
Minister of Internal Affairs
Ul. Gorodskoi Val 4
220030 Minsk, Belarus
Fax: +375 17 203 99 18