Picks of the week
132 persons have been convicted over joining the anti-integration protests in December and January, according to Viasna’s database of administrative persecution.
There were 202 trials, and the courts ordered a total of 375 days of short-term detention targeting 13 protesters. Nearly 145,000 rubles (65,000 USD) were imposed on the protesters in fines, statistics say. In only a few cases, the charges were dropped.
The new wave of repression affected representatives of various political parties and civil society organizations. Known authors, bloggers, and journalists were convicted, too. For many, it was their first trial ever.
The trials were held in 16 cities across Belarus, most of them in Minsk. A few more court hearings are expected in the near future.
Viasna’s human rights defenders have written to three Special Rapporteurs of the UN to demand intervention in the case of Ales Krutkin, an opposition activist in Polack, who has been sentenced to 3 consecutive terms of detention for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
A European Belarus member, Krutkin was expected to be released on February 26, after serving his second 15-day sentence, but was once again awarded another 15 days in jail. All the convictions are related to the activist’s involvement in the pro-independence protests held in January.
The human rights defenders stress that none of the court rulings specifies how his actions posed a threat to the objectives set out in Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as grounds for restricting the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
“We call for urgent action for the release of Ales Krutkin, who has already spent 30 days behind bars and must spend another 15, unless additional punishment is assigned to him. It is also necessary to prevent the execution of court decisions ordering the detention of Dzmitry Kazlou (94 days to serve), Pavel Seviarynets (30 days to serve), Siarhei Tsikhanouski and Maksim Urbanovich (15 days to serve each), and Viachaslau Siuchyk (45 days to serve) who left Belarus to avoid the punishment,” says the appeal.
Viasna activist Aliaksandr Vaitseshyk was detained by the police on Sunday after he was not allowed to attend a staff meeting at a farm in Niasviž district. Vaitseshyk represented an employee who had reported repression from the farm top managers.
After the arrest, the activist complained of poor health and had to be taken to hospital. He was discharged on February 25.
Vaitseshyk is expected to face charges after a visit to the police scheduled for March 2.