May 21 is the Day of the Political prisoner in Belarus: show your solidarity! Updated with international actions locations Updated

2022 2022-05-20T23:55:00+0300 2022-05-20T13:46:14+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Viasna human rights center declares May 21 the Day of the Political prisoner in Belarus. On this day a year ago, a political prisoner activist from Biarozauka, Vitold Ashurak, died in Škloŭ colony No. 17 under unclear circumstances. Human rights activists call on this day to remember Vitold, express solidarity with the political prisoners of Belarus, and once again demand their release from the authorities.

On May 21, political prisoner Vitold Ashurak died in the colony

Human rights activists chose the date of the day of a political prisoner in Belarus for a reason. May 21 is the anniversary of the death of political prisoner Vitold Ashurak in the colony.

Vitold was an activist from Biarozauka, against whom a criminal case was brought in August 2020 for post-election protests. The judge of the Lida district court Maksim Filatau sentenced Vitold to five years in prison behind closed doors. He was sent to the Škloŭ colony to serve his sentence. On May 21, 2021, on the 244th day of his imprisonment, political prisoner Vitold Ashurak died in the Škloŭ colony. The official reason is a heart attack, although, according to relatives, the man did not complain about his health to the conclusion.

Relatives still do not know why the man died. There is also still no criminal case on his death.

It was Vitold who was the first political prisoner during the events of 2020 who told about the mass labeling of political prisoners in colonies with yellow tags. He wrote about this in his letter:

"There are not enough political people here [in the Škloŭ colony]. So there is no reason to be sad. Moreover, the administration has issued an order to have yellow tags on clothes, and therefore political people can be distinguished from afar."

During the Second World War, the Nazis sewed yellow "stars of David" to Jews.

1,452 people recognized political prisoners in two years

At the moment, there are 1,203 political prisoners in Belarus. Almost all representatives of the Belarusian society are behind bars: human rights defenders, journalists, activists, politicians, students, factory workers, former officials and security forces, teachers, cultural figures, doctors, builders, scientists, and others. Minors, mothers with many children, pensioners, and people with diseases are sent to the colony for participating in protest actions. Political prisoners in places of detention are kept in inhumane conditions, beaten, tortured, and do not provide the necessary medical care.

Due to the political situation in Belarus, 1,452 people have received the status of political prisoner since July 1, 2020. This is an unprecedented situation of repression in Belarus.

Human rights defenders demand the release of all political prisoners and an end to political repressions against Belarusians.

Human rights defenders urge to join solidarity actions to support political prisoners in Belarus.

Planned actions:

  • Vilnius, Lithuania
  1. May 21, from 5 to 7 pm, Embassy of the Republic of Belarus (Vilnius, 13 Mindaugo str.);
  2. May 22, 2 pm, signing of postcards for imprisoned Belarusians with Viasna human rights center and the Belarusian Aid Fund in Lithuania Razam (20 Vilniaus str.);
  • Batumi, Georgia

May 21, 4 pm, action at the port (location on map).

  • Tel Aviv, Israel:

May 20, 10 am, action in memory of Vitold Ashurak near the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus (3 Reines str., near Dizengoff Square).

  • Warsaw, Poland
  1. May 21, 1 to 2 pm, Belarusian Youth Hub (6 Plac Konstytucji). Viasna human rights defender Zmitser Salauyou will tell the stories of political prisoners in Belarus, and representatives of the local project Letters to Political Prisoners will talk about the importance of letters of solidarity.
  2. May 21, 6 pm, memorial evening for Belarusian hero Witold Ashurka, Belarusian House in Warsaw (ul. Kryniczna 6).
  3. May 22, 11:30 am, special service in memory of Vitold Ashurak in St. Alexander's Church (plac Trzech Krzyży), after it at 1 pm. you can join the march to the Copernicus Monument, where the action will take place at 2 pm.
  4. In addition, for two nights, on May 20 and 21, you can see projections of photographs of political prisoners in Belarus on the Hub building.
  • Krakow, Poland

May 21, 2 pm, the action of solidarity at the Adam Mickiewicz Monument, Main market square.

  • Prague, Czech Republic

May 21, 12 am, action at Malostranské náměstí;

  • London, UK

May 28, 2 to 3 pm, chain of solidarity with political prisoners, east side of Westminster Bridge

Other ways to show solidarity with political prisoners

  1. Put the "yellow extremist tag" on your clothes as a sign of solidarity with political prisoners (the layout is a rectangle of yellow color measuring 4×10 cm).
  2. Tell the story of one or more political prisoners on social networks with the hashtag #МойСябраПалітвязень.
  3. Write an open letter to a political prisoner or publish it with the hashtag #свабодупалітвязням.
  4. Light a candle in memory of political prisoner Vitold Ashurak on the evening of May 21.
  5. Send a letter of solidarity to a political prisoner (you can do it online through the solidarity postcard workshop, and you can choose a political prisoner using a randomizer).
  6. Join the project to embroider portraits of political prisoners
  7. Support a political prisoner in another way: by sending parcels, telegrams, and money transfers.
  8. Come up with and implement another action demanding the release of political prisoners (share your idea with us in the telegram @Spring96info).

Freedom for political prisoners!