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

2022 2022-03-28T17:22:12+0300 2022-03-28T17:22:13+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On September 17, #FreeViasna campaign of solidarity with the imprisoned Viasna members was launched. Here’s the latest news about them.

Freedom Day, March 25, is a special day for Belarusian human rights defenders

For Viasna human rights defenders Freedom day means not only celebrating. With few exceptions, in modern Belarus, March 25 has also been a day of detentions, arrests, and brutal dispersals of peaceful citizens. On this day, Viasna becomes a gathering point for information from all over the country about human rights violations; lawyers, volunteers, and journalists are hard at work. Viasna members who monitored peaceful rallies were often among those arrested on that day.

Freedom Day in shackles. Why March 25 is a special day for human rights defenders

Freedom Day, March 25, has always been and remains a special day for Belarusian human rights defenders. And first of all, as an important historical landmark.

Valiantsin Stefanovich: “I dream of walking the streets of my hometown.”

Human rights defender Valiantsin Stefanovich sent a letter from behind bars in which he recalls Istanbul:

“I enjoy different kinds of sea. Unquiet, stormy sea is also very much to my liking. Such a sea excites me. Watching the force of waves crashing against the shore and rocks is a beautiful picture. [...]

I would like to go to Istanbul again with my wife. We were there together, and it was a very romantic time.”

Postcard sent by Valiantsin Stefanovich

The human rights activist also sent a postcard in which he shared his dreams: 

“I dream of walking through the streets of my hometown feeling dizzy from the spring air breathing in the air of freedom again and again. I see it in my dreamy dreams. [...]

Someday we will meet again.”

No letters for Leanid Sudalenka for two months

Human rights defender Leanid Sudalenka has been in the penal colony since January 27. His wife recently received a letter from him in which he said that he had not received a single letter since then. After that Leonid's friend, human rights defender Vasil Paliakou, filed an appeal to the head of the penal colony, demanding not to interfere with the correspondence and deliver letters to Sudalenka.

The administration responded that “all correspondence coming to the name of inmate L. Sudalenka is passed to him in accordance with the current legislation”. Now Paliakou is going to address his demand to the Department of Corrections.

Tatsiana Lasitsa: “I have very busy days now, working in a sewing workshop”

Tatsiana Lasitsa, a political prisoner who used to volunteer for Viasna, sent a message from prison. She writes that she is in a cheerful mood, is learning to sew in the colony, and can see the sky:

“I also have very busy days now, I work in a sewing workshop, you have to perform routine tasks, work of all kinds. [...]

I recently submitted a request to make calls, but they only let me speak to my relatives on the phone; maybe I'll be able to call them in April.”

On November 3, 2021 Leanid Sudalenka and Tatsiana Lasitsa were sentenced to three and two and a half years in prison respectively. The trial has been held in private.

No news from four members of Vesna

Last week there was no news from the head of Viasna Ales Bialiatski, lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich, coordinator of the Viasna volunteer service Marfa Rabkova, and volunteer Andrei Chapiuk.