Mozyr: human rights activist appeals picket ban
On September 10, the Mazyr District Court held a preliminary hearing on the appeal of a human rights activist Uladzimir Tseliapun against the decision of the Chairman of the Mozyr District Executive Committee Siarhei Hvozdz and his deputy Feliks Haliuk to ban a picket organized by him.
The activist intended to hold the picket on August 3, dating it to the Day of Solidarity with Civil Society of Belarus, marked on August 4. The aim of the event was to express solidarity and support the political prisoners held by Belarus.
The appeal was considered by Judge Natallia Asadchaya. At the beginning of the hearing Mr. Tseliapun filed a motion that the trial was conducted in the Belarusian language. The judge listened to the views of interested parties and made a decision to conduct a trial in Russian. The main argument of the parties and the court was that they didn't have a sufficient command of the Belarusian language and there were two official languages in Belarus. Therefore, the judge ruled that the trial would be held in Russian, but the plaintiff was allowed to speak Belarusian.
The main stance of Mr. Tseliapun was that while considering his appeal for the picket the authorities ignored the requirements of the Law “On Mass Events”. According to Article 2 of the Law, "picketing is a public expression of interests or protest by a citizen or a group of citizens".
“How can publicity be achieved on fenced stadiums, where people come after reading announcements on posters?" asks the human rights activist. Bear in mind that a stadium, located on the outskirts of Mozyr was defined as the site for mass events.
The applicant believes that the responsible officials ignored the requirements of Article 59 of the Constitution, namely – did not take into account the measures, necessary for the full enjoyment of the rights and freedoms of citizens.
"I haven't received a clear answer from Siarhei Hvozdz and Feliks Haliuk. Maybe, they will explain their actions at the next hearing,” said Mr. Tseliapun. The head of the legal department of the Mazyr District Executive Committee presented a written reply to the appeal of the human rights defender. Her main argument is that the applicant was denied in a specific location of the rally, not in holding the mass event at all.
The next hearing will take place on 23 September. Perhaps, a verdict will be announced at it.
“The main result of the hearing is that the Belarusian judges and officials of the power verticals don't know the Belarusian language within the limits of their office powers. Who shall I apply to for the protection of the “Belarusian world?” wonders the activist. Mr. Tseliapun also stated that one could easily predict the results of such a trial.