Salihorsk: authorities organize monthly days of unpaid work for construction of Orthodox church
Monthly contributions for the construction of an Orthodox church in Salihorsk that are compulsory but made to appear as voluntary are being collected from the residents of the city for several years already, and will last at least until 1 January 2017.
The decision was taken by Salihorsk District Council of Deputies at the end of last year, but the general public learned about that just now.
The request for continuation of funding of the construction of the Cathedral of the Christ’s Birth was sent to the local authorities by archpriest Mikalai Rozau.
Council of Deputies responded with prolongation of its previous decision "On Monthly Days of Unpaid Work" according to which extensive fund raising for building a cathedral was carried out in miners’ capital.
It is worth mentioning that in 2012, after the disclosure of information about the misuse and misappropriation of these funds, representatives of Salihorsk civil society sent an appeal to the local administration with the requirement to establish public control over the means used for the construction. They proposed to create a public audit commission. However, the local authorities did not hear to public opinion.
Local representatives of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee expressed their concern over deteriorating situation around another round of compulsory but as-if-voluntary contributions. Human rights activists remind that public authorities should not be giving preferences to certain religious confessions by forcing people to give donations, but should provide equality between them and promote interdenominational dialogue and guarantee citizens the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
BHC representatives request to inform them about all cases of coercion to participate in the monthly days of unpaid work, and are ready to provide legal assistance regarding this case to anyone.