Cases of the missing persons must not be dropped
The investigation into the cases of the
missing politicians, which has lasted for 14 years, failed to
establish the circumstances of their disappearance and the
protractors. Meanwhile, the time limitation on these cases ends in a
year. After 2014 the authorities can without a qualm of conscience
state they "have done everything possible, but the bodies of the
missing and the people guilty of their disappearance haven't been
On 12 February representatives of political parties and NGOs gathered to work out a single strategy of actions which would prevent the closure of the cases of the secret lynching of the former Minister of Interior Yury Zakharanka, politician Viktar Hanchar, businessman Anatol Krasouski and journalist Dzmitry Zavadski. Nothing is known about their fates so far. According to unofficial information, they became victims of a "death squadron".
The lawyer Hary Pahaniaila told the participants of the round table "No time limitation for cases of the missing" that the relatives of the missing persons and their official representatives had prepared a petition to the Prosecutor General asking to extend the investigation into these cases. However, it is just a small part of the work which needs to be done to find the truth.
"We need to restore all possible judicial and political mechanisms to make the authorities do anything, or, otherwise, to evidently show the society that the authorities are in sh*t over head and ears", said Mr. Pahaniaila.
Various proposals have been issued concerning the further steps in this direction. The human rights defender Liudmila Hraznova considers that it is difficult to achieve something by legal instruments alone: it is also necessary to appeal to the people's minds in order to change the social attitude to the issue of the missing politicians, change the situation in the country and image of the opposition itself.
The deputy head of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich singled out three main spheres of activities:
- legal actions within the framework of the national legislation;
international actions, including
appeals to the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus Miklos Haraszti and
providing him with complete and accurate information, as well as
other instruments, including the UN Human Rights Committee;
- the informational direction, including work with the society and modern techniques of public opinion-making.
Among other proposals approved during the discussion, supported were the preparation of a national report on the issue of the missing persons, and its wide presentation, creation of professional documentaries, wide collection of signatures by means of the so-called electronic petitions.
Constructive proposals have been voiced by the co-chairman of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Vital Rymasheuski, the head of the Belarusian Popular Front Aliaksei Yanukevich, the deputy head of the Belarusian Leftist Party "Fair World" Valery Ukhnaliou and the civil activist and historian Vatslau Areshka.
The leader of the United Civil Party Anatol Liabedzka, who initiated and hosted the meeting, called on the present people to work out a common strategy, including all voiced proposals, and start immediate consolidated actions. "This initiative is open for all other parties and associations who really want and can help us in solving the issue of enforced disappearances", emphasized the politician.
The cases of the missing must not be simply passed to the archives, neither in a year, nor in ten years. There can be no time limitations for them.