Elections come nearer. Haunting of human rights activists has started
Mahiliou Human Rights Centre , the only registered regional human rights organization in Belarus, faces liquidation.
On March 10, Mahiliou Regional Court started considering the claim of the Main Bureau of Justice on liquidation of the organization. The formal reason is the lack of a legal address.
The head of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" Ales Bialiatski gave a commentary to Radio “Liberty” on this occasion, saying that the authorities look for trifle reasons to stop the activity of public associations:
"This is not a new problem, it has been going on for a long time. Obviously, this is a limitation of work of human rights organizations and a restriction of the right of association in general. This is a classic example where the authorities use some formal reasons, created by themselves, and thus try to interfere or simply liquidate and organization."
As stated in the lawsuit, the public association MHRC hasn't been located on the address, specified in its Charter, since December 5, 2014, because the lease agreement was terminated by the lessor "unilaterally".
The head of the Mahiliou Human Rights Centre Uladzimir Krauchanka says that the lessor is pressurized: “The lease agreement was concluded for a year. Such agreement can be canceled only on the agreement of the sides. We don't agree to it. Nevertheless, the lessor has stopped giving us bills for the rent and asked us as well as he could to leave the office, as the KGB were pressurizing him. The lessor is Dzmitry Panamarenka, who owns several premises and lends them to a hairdresser and others. One of them, whose size is 12 square meters, has been lent to us. He has been intimidated, he is afraid that the sanitation centre, firefighters and other state agencies will start inspecting the lent premises.
At the court hearing Mr. Krauchanka made a petition to summon the lessor, Dzmitry Panamarenka, and the KGB captain Yury Haurylau, who, according to the former, pressurizes him. The judge dismissed the petition.
The plaintiff, the head of the Justice Board of the Mahiliou Regional Executive Committee Aliaksandr Maymusau, refused to comment to Radio “Liberty” on his pretensions to the human rights centre:
“I don't give such information on the phone. Secondly, the case is in court already”.
Chairman of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" Ales Bialiatski says that human rights associations are pressurized most among all other NGOs. All human rights defenders are under a vigilant control of the authorities, especially in the regions:
"In Hrodna, human rights activist Sazonau always has some problems: he is either searched on the border or gets anonymous threats in social networking sites. In Mahiliou, there are problems with the registration of a human rights centre. In Vitsebsk, Pavel Levinau, who represents the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, was fined when journalists took photos with birds flying out of cages.
Thus, human rights defenders in the regions are at the forefront of the struggle for human rights. What is also typical – many of them fired from their jobs. Such method of pressurization as dismissal from work affects first of all politicians and human rights activists. That's why of course, they have troubles there."