Do Not Kill All Human in Person — Zmicier Dashkievich’s Open Letter to Prosecutor General’s Office

2012 2012-10-31T20:22:28+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

The main law of our country — the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus in its Article No. 25 says that no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or undignified treatment or punishment, which violate personal liberty, inviolability and dignity.

Being in prison, a person seemingly should have an opportunity to exercise this right granted by the Constitution. Moreover, the Criminal Code in its Article No. 10 states that “a prisoner should not be subject to severe or humiliating treatment or treatment which disparages the dignity.”

Unfortunately, these lines usually remain just beautiful words far from reality. If free people have to fight for their dignity every day, there is not much to say about Belarusian prisons. They are the places where everything human is gradually and cynically killed in a person with physical and moral violence (which is actually worse than physical).

I will describe only one situation in one prison — the prison No. 2 in Viciebsk — as an example.

The prison No. 2 seems well-groomed from outside: everywhere, there is new tile, new windows and new bathroom equipment. But due to some points, it would be better here without tile and with old bathrooms. The point is — one could never guess — a spoon. It is strictly prohibited to possess a spoon in the prison No.2. I found no logics while I was the resident of this wondrous institution.

My written request to permit me to possess a spoon was denied as according to the prison administration I have no opportunity to process it properly what means to wash it.

However this respond cannot be considered a serious as each prisoner is given an aluminum cup which is required to be not clean, but shining. And the prisoners conform: they polish their cups with newspapers for several hours per day as no one want to get to a solitary confinement.

Furthermore, at lunch, the second course is served on the same aluminum plate as the first one. This plate also must be kept clean. So, prisoners may have a cup and a plate, but not a spoon as they can’t wash it. In the end, it seems “very logical.”

If a person is inside this system, he or she have to use a tooth brush case or a tooth paste tube to stir sugar in a cup of tea.

Isn’t it weird? Is it possible to invent it?

And I’m not saying about the fact that it is impossible to drink something hot from such a cup (which is yet cannot be called a cup): duraluminium container is always hotter than the content and the skin from lips simply goes off.

And I’m not mentioning that these cups have no handles so one have to wrap it in newspaper to carry hot water from the socket which is floor-low near the door, to the table.

And I’m not saying that if a poor prisoner want to cook some porridge, so prisoner has to cook it in this cup (if spoons are prohibited, so are plates!) and eat it with a toothbrush case or tooth paste tube (if you’d like to).

So can this somehow correlate with human dignity?

What is police turning persons into in prisons?

It should be kept in mind that people in the remand prisons are de jure innocent, and some of them manage to even prove their innocence in this country.

But even if a person is pronounced guilty, which code prescribes humiliate yourself? Which law prohibits possessing a spoon? Which legislative act orders cooking porridge in handleless cup and eating it with tooth brush case?!

Why can’t a person be allowed — if it is still a person, but not an animal — to possess a plate, a normal cup and, finally, a spoon?!

Will it worsen the crime situation in a remand prison? Will it cause riot? Will it shake reeducation of offenders?

No. Belarusian prisons are not striving to reeducate the offenders. Belarusian prisons due to some reason have another primary goal: to humiliate a person, to crush it, to make prisoners forget they are humans created in His image and likeness. But if realize that prison is a miniature model of the state, it sheds light upon everything.

But don’t you think, ladies and gentlemen, you achieve only reverse results? Don’t you understand that your humiliations only make people angrier? Don’t you understand that sooner or later you will change your places and those who eat today with spoons will eat with tooth brush cases tomorrow and vice versa?

What will you, patricians, do then? May be you will demand a spoon? You may, but will it be given to you? I, fearing the Judgment Day, would give it to you. But those so carefully and purposeful reeducated by you may not give it. And may be it were you who gave them the moral right to do so?