“Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” call to release observer Aliaksandr Burakou
On August 5, a car driven by Aliaksandr Burakou was stopped by the traffic police in Mahilioŭ on suspicion of transporting counterfeit alcohol.
After finding no counterfeit alcohol in the trunk, the traffic police officer said that Burakou was suspected of tampering with the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN), detained the activist and took him to the Lieninski district police department of Mahilioŭ.
According to Viasna’s human rights activist Barys Bukhel, later the same day, he witnessed a provocation organized by police officers against Aliaksandr Burakou. Bukhel first heard a woman shouting and then Burakou saying, “This is a provocation”.
Aliaksandr Burakou was kept in the district police department overnight, after which he was transferred to the city’s pre-trial detention center. He was charged with an offense under Art. 17.1 of the Administrative Code (disorderly conduct), which may be related to the provocation committed against him.
Now Burakou faces a term of administrative detention of up to 15 days. The authorities are thus seeking to isolate the observer for the remainder of the election.
Earlier this year, Burakou served 10 days of administrative detention under Art. 23.34 of the Administrative Code (organization or participation in an unauthorized mass event). On May 8, he observed a peaceful assembly in Mahilioŭ and was detained along with other participants.
Aliaksandr Burakou’s new detention took place against the background of numerous facts of non-admission of observers to the polling stations, their removal from the polling premises and detentions by the police.
We, representatives of the campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”, note that human rights activities, as well as election observation, are legitimate activities, which are guaranteed both by national legislation and international human rights standards. According to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and seek to protect and exercise human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels. The state, in turn, shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection, through the competent authorities, of any person acting individually and jointly with others, from any violence, threats, retaliation, negative de facto or de jure discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary acts in connection with the lawful exercise of his or her rights referred to in this Declaration.
In this regard, we call to:
- immediately release human rights activist Aliaksandr Burakou and drop the administrative charges he is facing;
- immediately put an end to all acts of persecution of election observers and ensure their presence at the polling stations.