Statement by HRC “Viasna” in regard to the attack on its volunteers
December 6, 2021
On December, 1 and in the following days, the repressive apparatus of the Belarusian authorities launched an arbitrary attack on human rights defenders and “Viasna” volunteers once again: searches in the homes of over 20 volunteers were carried out, followed by detentions and interrogations; volunteers had to sign pledges of secrecy. Previously, our volunteers were also harassed for their activities aimed at monitoring the observance of the right to a fair trial, and one of the volunteers was subjected to arbitrary detention, administrative arrest and cruel, inhuman treatment, based on which we sent a message to UN. WE see all this as authorities’ arbitrary repressive reaction to exclusively legitimate, peaceful and open activities of protecting, enhancing and advocating human rights, in particular, to the volunteer support of the human rights defenders’ work and monitoring the observance of fair justice standards.
In this regard, we, “Viasna” human rights defenders, following the United Nations, recognize the important and progressive role of the volunteer movement: volunteers engage communities and create a people-centric movement to help build a better and safer future for all of us. Encouraging, recognizing and promoting volunteerism is an important part of creating a more equal and inclusive future for communities and worldwide.
In accordance with the Constitution, everyone has the right to freedom of association. Citizens of Belarus shall be guaranteed the right to receive, store and disseminate complete, reliable and timely information of the activities of state bodies and public associations, on political, economic, cultural and international life, and on the state of the environment.
The Criminal Procedure Code obliges the court to ensure an open trial of criminal cases. Any exceptions to this rule are possible only within the strict framework of criminal procedural norms. In other cases, those present at an open trial have the right to make written and sound recordings. Any limitation of these rights is arbitrary and illegal.
Therefore, we protest strongly against the recurring pressure on “Viasna” and its volunteers, condemn the violation of human rights and freedoms as an instrument of pressing human rights defenders, volunteers, and civil society in general, as well as reaffirm our readiness to continue peaceful legitimate activities aimed at defending and promoting human rights.
No repression is able to limit a legitimate desire to obtain reliable and objective information about all aspects of society's life, no manifestations of senseless cruelty and arbitrariness can disguise authorities' methods of suppressing peaceful protests and dissent, reactionary in their form and meaning.