“Incident with Andrei Bandarenka is a rude and cruel provocation”
Chairman of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" Ales Bialiatski commented on the hunger-strike of the imprisoned human rights activist Andrei Bandarenka.
The reasons for the hunger-strike were reported to RFE/RL by Andrei's father, Valery Bandarenka.
“He went on a hunger-strike as a result of a provocation against him. Somebody spread the rumours that during his first prison term he was allegedly kept in the same cell with a man with a low social status, and therefore such status was to be spread on him as well. Among other things, it means that he cannot sit at the common table in the dining hall. As a result, he refused to eat at all. He comes to the dining room and says that he refuses to eat.
So far, he hasn't been put in the penal cell for it, but the situation doesn't change. Moreover, the colony administration prohibited all prisoners to contact with Andrei Bandarenka for fear of punishment. I know that my son has had a meeting with the head of the colony, but don't know about the results of the talk. I am also trying to get an appointment with the colony administration, but don't have any positive results so far,” said Valery Bandarenka on November 10.
Theformer inmate of the Babruisk penal coloby No. 2 Ales Bialiatski says that the situation of Andrei Bandarenka is a rude and cruel provocation, that such methods have been used against unruly and disloyal prisoners by prison authorities since the Soviet times.
“Illegal methods of pressurizing prisoners are regularly used in penal colonies. Bandarenka's case is very eloquent. Prohibition to other prisoners to talk to him or to have any contacts is a repetition of the my own situation. This is an attempt of the prison administration to exert psychological pressure on the prisoner," commented Ales Bialiatski, reminding that the activities of the organization, headed by Andrei Bandarenka, mainly concerned the conditions in places of detention, which, of course, could not please the administration of the penal colony No.2 where Bandarenka also served his previous prison term (he was justified after wards).
"The attitude to Andrei Bandarenka was predetermined even before he got into this colony again. While serving his first time he behaved quite independently, and after his release he opened the veil of secrecy existing in Belarusian prisons," said the human rights activist.
"As for the attempt to belittle Bandarenka in the eyes of the other prisoners, it has been also repeatedly used by the prison administration as a method of pressure on the prisoners who have their opinion or irritate them, aimed at increasing their insulation in such a way. There is no doubt that all these actions are planned, and the responsibility for them is to be born by the administration of the colony," emphasizes the head of "Viasna".
Bear in mind that Andrei Bandarenka was transferred from the remand prison No. 1 in Minsk to the correctional colony No. 2 in Babruisk at the end of October, after the consideration of the cassation appeals on his case by the Minsk City Court. The court left the verdict to Mr. Bandarenka unchanged: three years in a high-security colony.