Statement by Belarusian human rights defenders on the recognition of three new political prisoners
Statement by the human rights community of Belarus
May 20, 2022
We, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, reiterate that imprisonment and criminal liability for protest actions are used by the authorities to suppress public and political activism, dissent, and anti-war protests.
Criminal legislation has been substantially tightened and extended with new corpus delicti, which are used by the authorities solely for the purpose of political repression.
Out-of-court, the Interior Ministry and the KGB arbitrarily recognize as extremist citizens' groups brought together by public or political interests, criticizing the actions of the authorities and demanding reforms in the state and its policies. This in turn paves the way for the arbitrary prosecution and imprisonment of their members as a disproportionate measure restricting the right to association and freedom of expression. For instance:
Mr. Dzmitryi Kandratsenka was taken into custody in the detention center on charges of promoting extremist activity under Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code for sending information about Russian military equipment to one of the Telegram channels.
Mr. Aliaksandr Luchynovich was taken into custody in the detention center on charges of promoting extremist activity under Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code for sending information about Russian military equipment to Bielaruski hajun Telegram channel.
Mr. Pavel Nazdra was detained on charges of facilitating extremist activities under Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code for sending a photo of Russian military equipment to Bielaruski hajun Telegram channel.
In the context of the socio-political events of recent weeks, the main event of which was the military invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, which caused a public outcry and resulted in the acts of solidarity with the people of Ukraine, we conclude that in abovementioned cases the citizens are persecuted for their political opinions and the non-violent exercise of their freedom of expression and association.
Therefore, we recognize them as political prisoners in accordance with paragraph 3.1 (a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of “Political Prisoner”, and demand that the Belarusian authorities:
- immediately release political prisoners Mr. Dzmitryi Kandratsenka, Mr. Pavel Nazdra, Mr. Aliaksandr Luchynovich;
- immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repression.
Human Rights Center Viasna
Belarusian Association of Journalists
Belarusian Helsinki Committee
Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House