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

2021 2021-11-15T17:23:33+0300 2021-11-15T17:23:34+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/poster_freeviasna.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.

It’s been four months since Ales Bialiatski, chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, his deputy Valiantsin Stefanovich and the organization’s lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich, were remanded in custody at pre-trial prison No. 1 in Minsk.

Viasna explained in a publication of what the human rights defenders are accused, who is prosecuting them and why the persecution of our colleagues is politically motivated.

“Failed to register Viasna as a tax agent”: Why are the three human rights defenders kept behind bars for four months?

This is not the first attempt to hide the political motive behind the persecution of human rights defenders. But everyone understands the essence of the claims against Viasna: human rights activists have never been silent when human rights were violated and freedoms were suppressed.

Viasna deputy chairman Valiantsin Stefanovich described the charges as extremely vague, saying that he “does not understand the essence of the accusations.”

Ales Bialiatski: “I’m like the title of Alexandre Dumas’ novel – Ten Years Later

The chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Ales Bialiatski, sent a letter to a fellow-activist:

“There is little news, because the days flow monotonously, from the morning check to the evening one, from wakeup to bedtime, from breakfast to lunch, from lunch to dinner. As if nothing is happening, but you can’t describe everything. In general, I’m like the title of Alexandre Dumas’ novel Ten Years Later.”

Valiantsin Stefanovich: “We should do our human rights work, even if there is no hope that it will get better soon”

Political prisoner Valiantsin Stefanovich sent a letter from, in which he reflects on human rights activities, colleagues from Viasna and the future:

“I think a lot about what is going on. I watch the news on TV, read the newspapers and then make up a more or less complete picture of these scraps in my head… I wish I were with you now, I would definitely not let you get bored. No one knows what awaits us. But I know one thing: our work is worthy and needed by people. I miss everyone very much”.

The human rights activist notes that he is well and everything is fine:

“I have to hold on, keep my strength and health, because I have no right to perish here, I am obliged to return alive to my children and family.”

A drawing sent to Viasna in response to Valiantsin Stefanovich's call to draw cats in prison
A drawing sent to Viasna in response to Valiantsin Stefanovich's call to draw cats in prison

"I feel that it is difficult for him there"

Uladzimir Labkovich’s mother told RFE/RL’s Belarus service that she worries a lot about her son and thinks that he is not guilty.

“I feel that it is difficult for him there. He is a very good son, a very good husband and father, and I understand how difficult it is for him without a family, without his children,” Liudmila says about her son.

The woman complains about the irregularity of correspondence with her son. According to her, not all of her letters reach Uladzimir, and very little mail leaves prison.

“Uladzimir asks people to write to him more, not to forget about him. I am convinced that he is not forgotten; it’s just they don’t give him many letters,” Labkovich’s mother said.

Marfa Rabkova: “Most importantly, people are changing. And these changes will not stop.”

Marfa Rabkova, coordinator Viasna’s network of volunteers, sent a postcard to share her thoughts on the changes taking place in Belarus:

“You are right that everything around is changing. And most importantly, people are changing. And these changes will not stop. I’m sure everything will be fine in the end. We must not lose optimism and keep ourselves alive in spite of everything. I wish all of us strength, patience and perseverance.”

Maryia Tarasenka on Viasna’s criminal case: “Time will come and Leanid will take his rightful place in Belarus”

Maryia Tarasenka, assistant to imprisoned human rights defender Leanid Sudalenka, who left Belarus fearing imprisonment, told about the trial that ended in Homieĺ on November 3, when Sudalenka and Viasna volunteer Tatsiana Lasitsa were convicted of their peaceful human rights work:

“There’s only one conclusion: helping people, engaging in human rights – this is a crime in today’s Belarus.

It is very sad and scary to see Belarus bogged down in a legal chaos. All norms are being destroyed – human, legal and social one, everything is just being destroyed. And people like Leanid Sudalenka, the most worthy people, are forced to be behind bars.

It is an honor for any country to have a lawyer of this level. But not yet for this country. But I believe: time will come – and Leanid will take his rightful place in Belarus.”

Maryia Tarasenka and Leanid Sudalenka


Support imprisoned members of Viasna 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)

SIZO-1, 220030, Minsk, vulica Valadarskaha 2

Marfa Rabkova (Марыі Аляксандраўне Рабковай)

SIZO-1, 220030, Minsk, vulica Valadarskaha 2

Ales Bialiatski (Аляксандру Віктаравічу Бяляцкаму)

SIZO-1, 220030, Minsk, vulica Valadarskaha 2

Andrei Chapiuk (Андрэю Сяргеевічу Чапюку)

SIZO-1, 220030, Minsk, vulica Valadarskaha 2

Uladzimir Labkovich (Уладзіміру Мікалаевічу Лабковічу

SIZO-1, 220030, Minsk, vulica Valadarskaha 2

Valiantsin Stefanovich (Стэфановічу Валянціну Канстанцінавічу)

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