Human rights organizations issue statement on recognition of eight more political prisoners

2021 2021-06-25T18:46:48+0300 2021-06-25T18:46:50+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/install_pudzily.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Joint statement by representatives of Belarusian human rights community

Minsk, 25 June 2021

Due to the increasing number of cases of convictions and imprisonment of Belarusian citizens under several defamation articles of the Criminal Code, as well as under the cases of desecration of state symbols of the Republic of Belarus, we, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, reiterate our repeatedly stated demands to decriminalize defamation and to prohibit imprisonment for contempt of officials, the state, state bodies and symbols (joint statement of 22 December 2020).

We have received information about the following individuals imprisoned for contempt of the president, government officials (police officers), judges, and for desecrating state symbols, as well as for using other acceptable forms of expression:

  1. Dzmitry Tsimafeyeu was convicted on 17.02.2021 by the Leninski District Court of Mahilioŭ under Article 369 of the Criminal Code for contempt of the head of the traffic police from Babrujsk to two years of restricted freedom in an open-type correctional facility, serving his sentence;
  2. Ryhor Mamanovich was convicted on 15.05.2021 by the Stolin District Court of Brest region under Article 370 of the Criminal Code for tearing down the state flag to one year of restricted freedom in an open-type correctional facility, serving his sentence;
  3. Maksim Tatstsianok was convicted on 26.02.2021 by the Kastryčnicki District Court of Minsk under Part 2 of Article 339 and Article 369 of the Criminal Code for hanging scarecrows with photos of the Speaker of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly Natallia Kachanava and Minister of Internal Affairs I. Kubrakou was sentenced to three years of restricted freedom in an open-type correctional facility, serving his sentence;
  4. Dzianis Zayancheuski was convicted on 26.02.2021 by the Kastryčnicki District Court of Minsk under Part 2 of Article 339 and Article 369 of the Criminal Code for hanging scarecrows with photos of the Speaker of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly Natallia Kachanava and Minister of Internal Affairs I. Kubrakou was sentenced to three years of restricted freedom in an open-type correctional facility, serving his sentence;
  5. Uladzimir Sokal was convicted on 09.06.2021 by the Dziatlaŭski District Court of Hrodna region for publishing on the Internet insulting and arbitrarily assessed as threatening comments about a police officer, sentenced to two years of imprisonment;
  6. Siarhei Treshchanka was convicted on 24.06.2021 by the Homieĺ Region Court under Article 130 of the Criminal Code for incitement of social hatred against police officers to three years in prison;
  7. Siarhei Malanchuk was convicted on 23.04.2021 by the Leninski District Court of Grodno under Article 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting the former head of the Interior Ministry Yury Karayev online to two years of restricted freedom in an open-type correctional facility, serving his sentence;
  8. Andrei Zhulyakou was convicted on 16.06.2021 by Minsk District Court under Article 368 of the Criminal Code for the contempt of the president to one year of imprisonment.

In this regard, we consider their prosecution and imprisonment politically motivated, linked to the peaceful exercise of the freedom of expression, recognize them political prisoners under paragraph 3.1(a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners, and demand that the Belarusian authorities

  1. Immediately release political prisoners Dzmitry Tsimafeyeu, Ryhor Mamanovich, Maksim Tatstsianok, Siarhei Zayancheaski, Uladzimir Sokal, Siarhei Treschanka, Siarhei Malanchuk, Andrei Zhulyakou, and terminate criminal prosecution against them.
  2. Take measures aimed at decriminalization of defamation offenses and the abolition of articles of the Criminal Code which provide for responsibility for contempt of the state, state symbols, and officials, namely articles 188, 189, 367, 368, 369, 369-1, 370, 391 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, and to terminate all criminal cases which were previously opened on these articles.
  3. Immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repressions against citizens of the country.

Human Rights Center "Viasna"
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