Release Rabochy Rukh activists Ihar Mints and Natallia Belabekhava
Joint statement of Belarusian human rights organizations
October 4, 2021
We, representatives of the human rights community of Belarus, noting the continuing repression against organizations and representatives of the country’s civil society, the arrest and pre-trial detention of labor activists and representatives of strike committees, in response to recent reports about the detention of Natallia Belabekhava and Ihar Mints, the latter on charges of treason, reaffirming our position set out in the statement of September 28, 2021, note the following:
The arrests of these and other activists are connected with the activities of the Rabochy Rukh initiative, which was earlier labeled by the authorities as “extremist”. Besides socio-economic demands, the group called to end violence and persecution of civilians, to release all political prisoners and to reverse all court rulings imposed against them. The activists also insisted on Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s resignation.
The true motive for the detention of the above persons is their non-violent activity to promote democratic values, as well as the legitimate exercise of freedom of association, freedom of opinion and expression.
Based on this, we consider the persecution and imprisonment of these labor rights activists to be politically motivated, as they are associated with their non-violent activities aimed at protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. The detainees are therefore political prisoners, in accordance with paragraph 3.1 of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners.
We call on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release Natallia Belabekhava and Ihar Mints and to stop their arbitrary persecution, end repression and release all political prisoners.
Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House