“The more we send, the more likely he will receive some”: Support prisoner of conscience Dzmitry Paliyenka!
“Let’s try and get him the gift of freedom,” Amnesty International called on its activists worldwide in early May as part of a global campaign in support of Belarusian prisoner of conscience Dzmitry Paliyenka.
Aisha Jung, Amnesty International's campaigner for Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova, explains why actions of solidarity are crucial in supporting imprisoned activists.
According to her, the global action in support of Paliyenka already involved activists from a number of countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, the U.S., Spain, the UK and Russia.
“And what we have asked people to do is to write letters to the authorities calling for his immediate and unconditional release as a prisoner of conscience, as he is being targeted solely for the peaceful expression of his rights to freedom of assembly and expression. But we also have asked people to target the prison authorities (which is unusual) directly, because we know that he is being targeted by the prison authorities, that he has had his monthly money that he is entitled to lowered for him, that he has been put in solitary confinement frequently, that he is being made to do work, which exacerbates his health problems. And also that he had this wound on his leg that is not being treated. So we are asking people to continue to write to the prison authorities and say he is a prisoner of conscience and should be released, but while he is there they need to make sure that he is treated well, that he has full access to all medical needs, his family, his lawyer,” Aisha Jung said.
Amnesty International is concerned that Paliyenka does not receive all of his mail. Aisha Jung recalled that on the eve of New Year Dzmitry’s friends did a solidarity action for him and sent him cards and he didn’t receive any of them.
“So we’ve been telling our activists, “The more we send, the more likely he will receive some.” And the groups are very busy working on his case. We also know that he likes to draw. He sent to one of our Dutch groups a thank-you letter with a drawing. And we publicized this and we said, “Look, if anyone wants to send him drawing material, as well.” I don’t know if he has received anything yet, but that’s a request that we’ve made, as well. And in the past sections responded very well to that sort of appeal. Many years ago, we did an action for a shelter for domestic violence, and we asked people to send chocolate and the chocolate came from all over the world,” the activist said.
Aisha Jung says she understands there is a risk that his sentence might be extended. And that is why Amnesty will continue to work actively on the case, while leaving no hope for his early release.
“As long as he is there, we will continue to raise the case,” Aisha Jung said.
You can send letters and postcards of solidarity to Dzmitry Paliyenka at:
Penal colony No. 2, 1 vulica Sikorskaha, unit 9, 212800, Babrujsk, Belarus