Sister of inmate who died in prison appeals detention for memorial rally
Iryna Miranovich, the sister of Ihar Ptsichkin, an inmate of the Minsk-based detention center No. 1 who died under uncertain circumstances while serving an arrest, considers illegal her detention for involvement in a picket staged to commemorate her late brother.
Mrs. Miranovich was arrested despite her pregnancy on September 14, when together with her friends she was heading to a prison in Valadarski Street to honor her brother and lay flowers to the wall of the penal facility. Subsequently, Tsentralny District Court of Minsk accused her of participating in an unsanctioned picketing and referring to paragraph 1 of Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code sentenced her to an administrative penalty in the form of a warning.
"We were going to the detention center to honor with a moment of silence the memory of my brother, who was killed (as a result of all this, I realized that he was definitely killed) by law enforcement officers. It was forty days since his death just a few days before, but we put it off till Saturday, so that all his friends and acquaintances could get together because people work and study. We stopped at a traffic light, and I was holding flowers and a portrait of my brother. And suddenly a minibus stops in front of me, the door opens: “get in”, “sit down”. I got in. I knew that we were being arrested. And I thought that I was pregnant, and they suddenly could start pushing me or something else out. The doctors said there was a risk of a premature birth, and I was in hospital because of that... And there were those huge musclemen, you could not even try protest or argue, who knows what might happen,” says Iryna.
According to the woman, neither during the arrest nor while in the police department none of the policemen introduced themselves or explained the reasons for the detention. “I asked who they were, and there was a huge one who looked at me and said, "you know who we are.” We were told to switch off our phones. Nobody was allowed to call. Then there came a policeman in uniform, the journalists arrested together with us told him that there was a pregnant lady, but he mockingly asked, “who is pregnant”, left and I did not see him anymore. When they put down our personal data and we were taken out of the room, they started commanding, "Line up against the wall!” I asked, "So, here we have no rights?" And they answered, “No, there aren’t.” After all, I saw it with my own eyes, the treatment of people by law enforcement officers, I’m sure they killed my brother,” says Mrs. Miranovich.
In a complaint to Minsk City Court, which Irina Miranovich prepared with assistance from the lawyers of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", she says the following, “The Court failed to establish the circumstances that would identify my standing at the crossroads as a picket. I had the right to lay flowers 40 days after the death of my brother, it was a form of showing respect for his memory.”
Apart from that, referring to the provisions of the Constitution of Belarus and international law, the complaint says that Mrs. Miranovich’s detention restricted her “right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly (including the interpretation of laying flowers as a rally, and a picket – as a mass event under the national law).” “Detention and institution of administrative proceedings is disproportionate restriction of freedoms and is not aimed at protecting the public interest, but at creating obstacles in demonstrating my attitude towards the death of my brother in the walls of a government agency, says the complaint.
Mrs. Miranovich also stresses that the formal reason for her prosecution under administrative proceedings were Articles 3 and 10 of the Mass Events Act. “These and certain other provisions of the Act violate the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of assembly, gatherings, street processions, demonstrations and pickets that do not violate the rule of law and the rights of other citizens of the Republic of Belarus, and therefore should be declared unconstitutional,” says Ihar Ptsichkin’s sister.
Irina Miranovich asks Minsk City Court to overturn the ruling of Tsentralny District Court of Minsk of September 16, 2013, and urge the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus to petition the Constitutional Court in order to find unconstitutional the Law “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus”.