Salihorsk, Baranavichy authorities ban Human Rights Day pickets
Chief ideology official of Salihorsk district executive committee, Mikalai Maskevich, did not allow local civil society activists to hold a picket to celebrate the Human Rights Day on December 10. According to the official, the application for holding a mass event on December 10, 2013 in the town’s Tsentralnaya Square does not meet the requirements of Article 5 of the Law “On Mass Events”. However, the chief ideology official failed to specify what parts of the said article were allegedly infringed by the organizers of the picket.
“There is nothing to comment here. There has been no freedom of assembly in our country for long time. This is probably only possible in North Korea – to ban a rally in defense of human rights on the International Human Rights Day. The officials are even afraid to explain what the exact formal reason for the ban was. Definitely, we are going to appeal the decision,” says the applicant of the picket Uladzimir Shyla.
The organizers of the rally stress that in their application they requested that the authorities, in case of any obstacles to this mass event, offered them alternatives according to the legislation of Belarus. This request was however ignored by the officials.
Simultaneously, Baranavichy authorities banned a similar picket. Local civil society activist Viachaslau Bolbat received yesterday a letter signed by the deputy chairman of the executive committee, Mr. Kastsiukevich, saying that the city authorities did not allow to hold a rally on December 10, 2013. The official believes that the applicant violated local restrictions on staging pickets. However, the letter from the executive committee traditionally fails to inform what exactly was violated by the activist when applying for the picket, but suggests, in case of disagreement with the decision, going to the court of Baranavichy district and the city of Baranavichy or to appeal the ban to the Brest regional executive committee.
“In my application, I wrote that since the picket would involve only 5 people, I’d take the responsibility for ensuring public order during the event and a cleanup after the picket. I also said that I would have a first aid kit on me. But the city authorities must have found this approach a violation of its decision concerning the organization of mass events. The officials require that we, instead of useful work for people, signed contracts with public utilities, medical and police departments. But we know very well that seeking such contracts has become just a waste of time, since it is impossible,” said Viachaslau Bolbat.