#FreeViasna: Weekly news digest on Viasna’s imprisoned human rights defenders

2021 2021-10-18T15:39:54+0300 2021-10-18T15:43:14+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/salodki_son_kot.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On September 17, dozens of Belarusian and international human rights groups launched #FreeViasna, the campaign of solidarity with the imprisoned human rights activists of Viasna. Here’s the latest news about the Viasna members held behind bars.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) believes that the real motive behind the baseless charges against Viasna members is to eradicate civil society in Belarus.

“Tax fraud accusations resonate with Belarus’ general population, which has struggled financially under Lukashenka’s rule, but they are nothing but a propaganda stunt. The Belarusian authorities have forced Viasna into making a choice between operating in a legal vacuum or dissolving,” FIDH said.

On October 22, Uladzimir Labkovich celebrates his birthday. Send your birthday wishes to the imprisoned human rights activist!

Uladzimir Labkovich, Viasna’s human rights defender and coordinator of the campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”, will turn 43 on October 22. Unfortunately, the human rights activist will celebrate his birthday behind bars. Congratulate Uladzimir on his birthday by writing to him:

SIZO-1, 220030, Minsk, vulica Valadarskaha 2

Uladzimir Labkovich (Уладзіміру Мікалаевічу Лабковічу

Recently, Uladzimir sent a letter, urging everyone to write and support political prisoners:

“You cannot imagine how powerful this support is – to receive letters being here. Especially now, when this happens less and less often.

I urge you to write letters to all prisoners. Here time just freezes. Life is on pause. Separation from the family is what hurts you most. That’s why letters from everyone with words of support are very important,” Labkovich said.

Valiantsin Stefanovich: “If I have to be in prison – I will. For the sake of the country”

On October 14, Valiantsin Stefanovich, deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” and vice president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), celebrated his 49th birthday in prison.

Representatives of various human rights organizations congratulated Valiantsin on social media.

Happy birthday, Valiantsin!

Today Valiantsin Stefanovich, deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” and Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), celebrates his 49th birthday. Unfortunately, our colleague will not be able to mark his birthday together with family and friends, as he is forced to languish behind bars for his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.

Valiantsin Stefanovich has been in pre-trial detention center No. 1 for more than three months. In his letters, he shares his reflections on freedom and how he spends his time.

“Letters for me now are the only channel of communication with the outside world. I now live by letters and dreams in which I meet with my friends, colleagues, family, the living and the dead. Someday I will write about these dreams, dreams in in the basements of the Piščalaŭski Castle [the historical building in central Minsk now occupied by pre-trial prison, which holds dozens of political prisoners],” Valiantsin writes.

SIZO-1, 220030, Minsk, vulica Valadarskaha 2

Valiantsin Stefanovich (Стэфановічу Валянціну Канстанцінавічу)

Marfa Rabkova: “I am desperate to go home. When will I return home?”

Political prisoner and Viasna human rights activist Marfa Rabkova was allowed to meet with her husband Vadzim Zharomski. They could talk for just one hour in a special booth through the glass and telephone handsets.

Vadzim notes that Marfa has lost a lot of weight, looks exhausted and tired, and her complexion is ash-white. Besides, after COVID-19 her lymph nodes are swollen, which causes pain. She has been repeatedly denied dental treatment.

During the meeting, she repeated one phrase several times: “I am desperate to go home. When will I return home?”

Marfa Rabkova next to her husband Vadzim Zharomski
Marfa Rabkova next to her husband Vadzim Zharomski

Marfa writes in her letters that the investigation into her case is likely to be over by late October:

“As for the case, it’s quiet, but allegedly the three-month extension [of pre-trial detention] should be the last one. The investigation will end and there will be interesting events ahead, including reading the case files and the trial. The charges will be terrible, but the hammer is not forging others now”.

SIZO-1, 220030, Minsk, vulica Valadarskaha 2

Marfa Rabkova (Марыі Аляксандраўне Рабковай)

Prosecutors want 3 years in prison for Leanid Sudalenka and Tatsiana Lasitsa

Viasna activist Leanid Sudalenka should be sentenced to 3 years in a penal colony, the prosecutors insisted during the politically motivated trial in Homieĺ. The same punishment was requested for volunteer Tatsiana Lasitsa, while Maryia Tarasenka could be sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Tarasenka is under house arrest, and Leanid and Tatsiana have been in custody since January 18 and 21, respectively. Judge Siarhei Salouski is expected to announce his verdict in the coming days.

Support Leanid and Tatsiana by writing to them:

SIZO-3, 246003, Homieĺ, vul. Knižnaja, 1A

Leanid Sudalenka (Леаніду Леанідавічу Судаленку)

SIZO-3, 246003, Homieĺ, vul. Knižnaja, 1A

Tatsiana Lasitsa (Таццяне Леанідаўне Ласіцы)

You can also write to Ales Bialiatski and Andrei Chapiuk:

SIZO-1, 220030, Minsk, vulica Valadarskaha 2

Ales Bialiatski (Аляксандру Віктаравічу Бяляцкаму)

SIZO-1, 220030, Minsk, vulica Valadarskaha 2

Andrei Chapiuk (Андрэю Сяргеевічу Чапюку)

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