Valyantsin Stefanovich: In colony Mikalai Dzyadok subjected to torture
None of prisoners is immune from cruel treatment and torture by the administration on personal and political motives. Charter97.org website was informed about that by a Belarusian human rights activist, a deputy head of Viasna human rights centre Valyantsin Stefanovich.
- It has become known that a political prisoner kept in the penal colony in Horki, Mikalai Dzyadok, had inflicted wounds on his stomach and arms. How would you comment on this fact?
- It has become known according to information provided by his wife. Over the short period of time spend by Dzyadok in the colony in Horki, there have been 4 reprimands, and he was placed into the punishment isolation cell 2 times. The latest incident was on May 19, when he was put into a punishment isolation cell for 7 days, and placed into a cold cell, where a person could not stay physically. He was suffering torments all night there, and in the morning he committed this act in order to attract attention of administration and make them transfer him into a different cell. Naturally, he tried to cry and communicate with someone from the administration, but to no avail. And finally he had to mutilate himself. This method is often used by prisoners in order to attract attention of administration or agencies of prosecutor’s supervision to the facts of violation of their rights. Here we are witnessing a typical fact of violation of prisoner’s rights. It demonstrates primarily that Mikalai Dzyadok undergoes pressure as a political prisoner, in the context of the recent events when we are witnessing increased pressure on all political prisoners, including Yury Rubtsou, Mikalai Statkevich, and the rest. Secondly, it shows that our penitentiary system has not extirpated these elements of the totalitarian past. The incarceration conditions in the punishment isolation cell are almost unbearable for people.
- Could it be viewed as torturing prisoners?
- Undoubtedly, placing a prisoner in such conditions could undoubtedly be viewed as inhuman, cruel treatment and use of torture. If a person cannot sleep, we are dealing with a fact of sleep deprivation. And it is one of the “favourite” methods of torture, used in Soviet camps, when a person was placed in a cold room in work clothes only.
- To your mind, is use of such methods against Mikalai Dzyadok connected with his status of a political prisoner?
- It’s hard to say. I think so, most likely it is related to that. But in general due to the situation in Belarusian prisons any of prisoners is safe from such treatment of administration. Reasons and motives could be different, ranging from a biased attitude of administration to “a political order” against a political prisoner.