Ales Bialiatski: Deteriorating of conditions for political prisoners is closely connected with the pre-election situation in the country
The alleged reason to change the prison regime and transfer the political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich to a cell-type prison is numerous violations of internal regulations of Škloŭ penal colony №17, where he was serving his sentence, and disobedience to the requirements of the colony.
Commenting on the judgment, Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", former political prisoner Ales Bialiatski notes that sometimes trifles, which can hardly be called violations, are used for increasing pressure on political prisoners :
"As a matter of fact, the Procedural-Executive Code, as well as the internal rules in Belarusian colonies widely interpret duties of prisoners and allow the colony administration to punish any prisoner. Meanwhile, such techniques such as the imposition of penalties for minor violations are often used subjectively, without clear and objective criteria. In the case of Mikalai Statkevich I just believe that it is such formal violations that have been used here," says human rights activist.
During the trial on May 4 in Škloŭ colony Statkevich in his final statement said that he under no circumstances would not write a petition for pardon, which is so much expected and desired by the Belarusian authorities. Ales Bialiatski believes that this is "the main reason why pressure continues being exerted on Mikalai Statkevich. The authorities find such illegal means of pressure in order to force him to write a petition for pardon. Why is this done? Perhaps in order to destroy some of his authority and his principled position. By the way, similar techniques were actively used against Soviet dissidents back in 1970-80-ies, who were also pressurized into writing such clemency petitions. "
The human rights activist, who has personally spent more than a thousand days in prison, is convinced that "the pressure that is now exerted on the political prisoners, is an open and blatant signal that is aimed, as it seems to me, first of all on the Belarusian society activists and those who intend to take part in the election campaign that will start soon, and the deterioration of the conditions of political prisoners is already very closely connected with the pre-election situation in the country. This is done in order to keep a high level of fear in the society and to provide psychological pressure on other social and political activists who are now at large. Everyone needs to know that he can fate such unenviable fate. These uniquely repressive methods emphasize that human rights are grossly violated in Belarus, and this situation is very abnormal."
Ales Bialiatski urges the Belarusian society to consolidate and be more active in defending human rights in Belarus:
"Civil society needs to actively and resolutely react to such cases, it is necessary to ensure that the level of requirements to observance of human rights, put before the Belarusian authorities by the European Union, do not decrease, so that we will not end up in a situation where the remaining political prisoners will be still held behind bars and new ones will appear, with simultaneous improvement of economic relations and political contacts between the West and Belarus. No, there must be still quite clear and understandable approach, and we shall demand it.
We need to talk about it, and talk loudly to be heard both by ordinary Belarusian citizens, so that they would know what is happening in our country and could somehow respond and form their views on the violations of human rights in the colonies, as well as by those who are engaged in social or political activities.
One of the main tasks of the Belarusian human rights activists is to talk about it at all levels to achieve this through the reduction of the scale of human rights violations, which is rather high in present-day Belarus."