"Capital punishment": intentional murder in the name of law can't be justified (photo, video)
October 7, the presentation of the joint photo project “Capital Punishment” by the photo journalist Siarhei Balai and the campaign "Human Rights Defenders Against the Death Penalty in Belarus" took place in Minsk.
The even was attended by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Great Britain to Belarus Bruce Bucknell, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic to Belarus Milan Eckert, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg, chargé d'affaires of Bulgaria in Belarus Ivaylo Ivanov, the guest of honor of the Belarusian Week Against the Death Penalty, a heroine of the photo project "Capital Punishment", social activist Tamara Chikunova, human rights activists and public figures.
Heroines of Siarhei Balai's photo project are Sviatlana Zhuk, Liubou Kavaliova, Tamara Sialiun, Volha Hrunova and Tamara Chikunova – the mothers whose sons' lives have been taken by the state under the guise of anti-human law.
Siarhei Balai told the visitors and guests of the Week Against the Death Penalty how he came to the idea of his project:
"I learned from research that more than half of Belarusians sincerely believe that there is a moratorium on the death penalty in Belarus. Later, I received a proof. When I talked to the parents and relatives of those sentenced to death, they also said that they had thought this way before getting the terrible news came to their houses. Only then did they find out the terrible truth. That's when I fully developed the project idea and decided to take it seriously. Not knowing where to start, I applied to the Human Rights Center "Viasna", to find contacts of persons, relatives of the executed. We developed a mutual interest, and decided to make the project in the form in which it is presented here today. The exhibition, presents 26 works, which are the result of a hard half-year's work. In fact, there are many more of them.
Tamara Chikunova who was struggling for the abolition of the death penalty in Uzbekistan for eight years and has achieved this, told the audience a revealing story of her own life, about how her son was executed, and then it became clear that he was innocent. This tragedy did not break her, it was the fight against the death penalty not only in the country but also in other places. She is convinced: "A man's life is a priceless gift given at birth. The state does not create people, doesn't give themtheir lives. Why, then should it assume the right to decide who is to live and who is to die. The purpose of criminal punishment is to make the perpetrators repent of their deeds, expiate their guilt and get rehabilitated in the community ...
The worst thing is that citizens of the states where the death penalty is practice consider themselves innocent of it, as they do not participate in the trials or executions. However, they forget that the state passes judgment on behalf of all citizens, and a person is killed on behalf of everyone. Directly or indirectly, everyone who lives in this state, is involved in the punishment of the offender."
“There are many mistakes in verdicts”, insists Tamara Chikunova. “Of more than one hundred people on death row, with whose cases I worker, only 12 received a life sentence after a review of their sentences. None of the 21 people who had served long terms in prison and were released have returned to the path of crime: they married, are working and raising children.
There is no excuse to deliberate, brutal murder in the name of justice. I am for life and against the death penalty!"
Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, one of the first human rights defenders, who began to address the issue of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus, Valery Filipau, signed his new book "Who Needs the Death Penalty" for Tamara Chikunova. The book is published in the framework of the project for the abolition of the death penalty, "Because we are human beings!", implemented by Penal Reform International with the assistance of the EU.
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Great Britain to Belarus Bruce Bucknell emphasized in his speech the international experience of the death penalty, spoke about the way the UK to the abolition of the capital punishment and expressed confidence that Belarus will eventually join the countries free of the death penalty.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg supported the campaign "Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty in Belarus " by his arrival in the country :
“I do not understand how to do any of those who lived in the 20th century, and remember how many innocent people were killed, can support the death penalty. I believe that in the 21st century, with a degree of civilization that we have reached today, there is no place for death penalty in a civilized European country. The authorities of any country don't have the right to punish their citizens with death."
Karel Schwarzenberg wished everyone who came here, all those who are fighting against the death penalty, a greater success in their business, and assured that he would support them in every way he can.
"I believe that we will succeed here," stated Mr. Schwarzenberg.
During the event, floor was also taken by chargé d'affaires of Bulgaria in Belarus Ivaylo Ivanov and Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich, who talked about his attitude to the death penalty.
In the end, the author of the photo exhibition Siarhei Balai answered reporters' questions, and the visitors got an opportunity to have a closer look at the exhibition and discuss it among themselves.
Coordinator of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty" Andrei Paluda, who moderated the presentation, thanked everyone for your attention to this complex topic and invited those present to visit other activities that are carried out these days as part of the International Week Against the Death Penalty .
The photo exhibition of Siarhei Balai "Capital Punishment" is open on October 8-9 October at the gallery “Goliaths” in Valhahradskaya Street, 4a free of charge.