Mikhail Miakhedka: “No fear of looneybin, but would not want to get there again, I am nobody and nothing there”
A resident of Minsk Mikhail Miakhedka, who for nearly six years has been trying to restore justice, going through numerous judicial and legislative authorities, suddenly found himself in the Republican Center for Mental Health located in Minsk’s Navinki district. It happened on August 6 after he tried to pass his petition to the Presidential Administration.
Back in March 2014, Mikhail Miakhedka appealed for help to the Human Rights Center “Viasna”: he urged the Constitutional Court to check the practice of applying the legislation on providing compensation for seizure of land and demolition of premises owned by citizens by right of common ownership for its compliance with the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus. It is because of this legal conflict that he suffered six years ago.
In the complaint Mr. Miakhedka wrote:
“I, as a citizen of the Republic of Belarus, have the legal right guaranteed by the Constitution to apply to the President of the Republic of Belarus, the head of state, guarantor of the Constitution, citizens’ rights and freedoms with a request to give instructions to the Constitutional Court to check the enforcement practices of the courts”.
The same possibility is suggested by an explanation that Mr. Miakhedka received from the Standing Committee on housing policy, construction, trade and privatization of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus on, in conjunction with the Chief Expert and Legal Department of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly.
In the end, an attempt to use this opportunity through a visit to the Presidential Administration ended with the petitioner’s placement in the National Center for Mental Health. Fortunately, he stayed there for only about a day, because after an interview with a psychologist it became clear that his hospitalization was absurd.
A day ago the Human Rights Center "Viasna" was visited by Mikhail Miakhedka himself – he wanted to express his gratitude to human rights defenders for their information support. He told the details of his detention and placement in a psychiatric hospital:
“On August 6 I went to the 1st entrance of the Presidential Administration, which is adjacent to the Aliaksandrauski Square and, having given my name, asked a security employee to call the person in charge. There appeared a major, to whom I explained that I wanted to pass my petition to the President and that it was my legitimate right. He replied that he could not take anything from me and that the President was not there. Moreover, standing near the entrance is forbidden. Then I said that I was going to wait for him there, nearby, on the sidewalk where people walk - because I did not violate anything by that - or invite an official authorized to inform the President.”
The Major in response called the riot police, who took Miakhedka to the nearest police station. There, after listening to what Miakhedka wanted, he was told that the President was in his new residence and they released him. The truth-seeker went to the new residence, where he learned that he had been misled, as the head of state was not there.
Mikhail Miakhedka returned to the Presidential Administration. This time, the same Major told him to come to the department for work with citizens, as he said his papers would be taken there. However, the employees refused to accept the petition and Miakhedka went back to the 1st entrance of the Administration. Then the guards once again called the police and the man was taken back to the police department.
Deputy chief of the police department for some time did not know what to do with the persistent truth-seeker who did not break any laws, but only asked to call the person in charge to deliver his complaint to the President. Then they decided to call the doctor. Then the ambulance arrived and the doctor, after several simple questions about the date and day of the week, offered to follow him to the National Center for Mental Health.
“In the emergency room, I was questioned in detail what had happened. I explained everything, while talking calmly and politely. The reply was that I had to undergo an examination. “And what is the reason for this?” I asked. “Do I need hospitalization?” The doctor on duty said that there was a police report, which stated that I was insane, trying to break in and falling to the ground. It was for this reason that I was brought there.”
“Well, you see, I am calm, balanced, do not use bad words, our conversation is quite logical. Why do you need to hospitalize me? Especially because I have just been discharged from hospital, suffered a stroke.”
“Unfortunately, at the front desk I was asked to sign an agreement on the voluntary placement in a psychiatric hospital. I did not know what it was, did not know the appropriate procedures and signed the paper. Later, the doctors themselves reproached me: why did you sign that agreement, when you know the laws well? I replied that if in this country you could not trust doctors, when who could you trust?”
Just a few minutes later there arrived his cousin who asked to release Mikhail and promised to take him home. However, the doctors were relentless and called the police officer who took the man to a strong room, where he spent the night. The duty doctor, who examined the patients, told Miakhedka that he would talk to him later. In the evening, when the patients received their injections, he did not undergo any procedures.
Mikhail Miakhedka told the human rights defenders about the conditions in which mentally ill persons are held:
“The observation ward has ten beds, all of them are occupied by patients who have been there for a month or more. Some of them are tied to their beds. In the evening, a male nurse starts shouting to put them to bed, fussing starts. I did not see any healthy people there. My cousin who came to see me said that he saw a police officer leading a man wearing a collar on a leash like a dog. He warned everyone to beware, because he could bite people. The observation ward is guarded, but you can go to the bathroom or for a smoke. However, it is necessary to ask permission from the nurse.
Food is usual, like in other hospitals, they gave buckwheat for breakfast.”
When on the following day Mikhail Miakhedka was invited to a doctor, there was a conversation, during which he was told that he was quite sane, but they could not let him go, as there was a report and there should be an order from some of those who detained him, so he had to remain in hospital for another day.
After that, the psychologist tested the patient for adequacy: he asked general questions, asked to combine cubes, to explain the meaning of proverbs.
Suddenly, in the afternoon, Mikhail Miakhedka was released from the Republican Center for Mental Health:
“I realize that events can develop unpredictably. I would like to take a portrait of the President and come to the building of the Supreme Court, where I recently got another runaround reply, stand there on the steps. I have no fear for looneybin, but I would not want to get there again because I understand that there I am nothing and nobody. I saw the doctor tell a patient: “Here you have been lying in bed for two months, and you never got up. And he says that does not want to get up, that he is OK like that.”
Mr. Miakhedka separately asked to note that the mental health center employees treated him with understanding, unlike those who made a false report and sent him to a psychiatrist. And, as it turned out later, Miakhedka faced two charges, as the doctors refused to send him to the hospital after the first report. Then a fresh report included evidence of inappropriate behavior by Miakhedka.
Unfortunately, human rights activists have repeatedly received information of situations when people are subjected to forced psychiatric treatment. Punitive medicine, as one of the tools of the pressure, is used by the government in order to break the will of the people to assert their rights and seek justice.