14 new political prisoners

2021 2021-09-24T17:01:18+0300 2021-09-24T17:01:19+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/polie-0209.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Joint statement by the Belarusian human rights community

September 24, 2021

In response to the new cases of conviction, imprisonment and pre-trial detention of individuals on defamation charges, we, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, once again reaffirming our repeated calls to decriminalize defamation and refrain from imprisoning individuals for insulting officials, the state, state bodies and symbols (joint statement of December 22, 2020), we note the following.

We have received information about the following persons imprisoned for insulting government officials (police officers) and state symbols, as well as the use of other permissible forms of expression:

Uladzislau Tamashevich, remanded in custody on charges of committing a crime under Article 370 of the Criminal Code for setting a flag on fire;

Aliaksei Chashun, remanded in custody on charges of committing a crime under Article 370 of the Criminal Code for setting a flag on fire;

Aliaksandr Babko, remanded in custody on charges of committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 339 of the Criminal Code for painting protest slogans on haystacks;

Ihar Myslivets, remanded in custody on charges of committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 339 of the Criminal Code for painting protest slogans on haystacks;

Alena Dziadziulia, remanded in custody on charges of committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 339 of the Criminal Code for painting protest slogans on haystacks;

Volha Dubovik, remanded in custody on charges of committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 339 of the Criminal Code for painting protest slogans on haystacks;

Andrei Aryko, remanded in custody on charges of committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 339 of the Criminal Code for painting protest slogans on haystacks;

Katsiaryna Aryko, remanded in custody on charges of committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 339 of the Criminal Code for painting protest slogans on haystacks;

Maksim Dubeshka, remanded in custody on charges of committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 339 of the Criminal Code for painting protest slogans on haystacks;

Vadzim Hil, remanded in custody on charges of committing a crime under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a government official;

Andrei Runtso, remanded in custody on charges of committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 339 of the Criminal Code for laying a funeral wreath at the front door of a police officer;

Mikalai Liohki, sentenced to two years of restricted freedom (“khimiya”) in an open correctional institution under Article 369 of the Criminal Code; sent to serve his sentence;

Vital Samsonau, sentenced to two years of restricted freedom (“khimiya”) under Articles 339 and 370 of the Criminal Code; sent to serve his sentence;

Yana Mileuskaya, remanded in custody on charges of committing a crime under Article 370 of the Criminal Code.

In this regard, we consider their persecution and imprisonment to be politically motivated, as they are related to the peaceful exercise of expression. The convicts are therefore political prisoners in accordance with paragraph 3.1 (a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners.

We call on the Belarusian authorities to:

  • immediately release political prisoners Ihar Myslivets, Alena Dziadziulia, Volha Dubovik, Andrei Aryko, Katsiaryna Aryko, Maksim Dubeshka, Vadzim Hil, Andrei Runtso, Mikalai Liohki, Vital Samsonau, and Yana Mileuskaya and end criminal prosecution against them;
  • take measures aimed at decriminalizing defamatory offenses and abolishing articles of the Criminal Code that provide for liability for insulting the state, state symbols and officials, namely, Articles 188, 189, 367, 368, 369, 369-1, 370, and 391 of the Criminal Code of the Republic Belarus, and terminate all previously initiated criminal cases under these articles;
  • immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repression.

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