Seven more political prisoners in Belarus

2022 2022-06-09T21:03:11+0300 2022-06-09T21:03:11+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/vk_illustr.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Joint statement by the Belarusian human rights community

June 9, 2022

In response to an increase in the number of cases of conviction and imprisonment of individuals under a number of defamatory articles of the Criminal Code, as well as for insulting state symbols of the Republic of Belarus, and other actions aimed at the lawful exercising of freedom of expression we, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community demand to put the end to the persecution for legitimate expression of views and, reaffirming our repeated calls to decriminalize defamation and to refrain from imposing terms of imprisonment for insulting officials, the state, government agencies and symbols (as mentioned in the Joint statement of December 22, 2020), note the following:

At the moment we know about the following persons imprisoned for insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka, police officers, judges, as well as insulting state symbols:

  1. Mr. Siarhei Indziukou, sentenced to 2 years and 6 months of imprisonment in a penal colony under Article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka, under Article 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a government official, and under Part 3 of Article 203-1 for Illegal actions with respect to information about private life and personal data;
  2. Mr. Pavel Bialianau, taken into custody under Article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka;
  3. Mr. Andrei Shulhat, taken into custody under Article 369 and 130 of the Criminal Code in the ‘Zeltser case’;
  4. Mr. Maksim Pliatniou, taken into custody under Article 341 of the Criminal Code for protest graffiti;
  5. Mr. Yauhen Merunko, sentenced to 24 months of restricted freedom in an open-type penitentiary under Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka, sent to serve his sentence;
  6. Mr. Yahor Bahdzevich, sentenced to 24 months of restricted freedom in an open-type penitentiary under Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka, sent to serve his sentence;
  7. Mr. Mikhail Zarankou, sentenced to 24 months of restricted freedom in an open-type penitentiary under Article 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a government official; sent to serve his sentence.

In this regard, we consider the persecution and imprisonment of the persons listed above as politically motivated in connection with the peaceful exercise of their views, and the convicts as political prisoners in accordance with paragraph 3.1 (a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners. We, therefore, call on the Belarusian authorities to:

1. Immediately release political prisoners Siarhei Indziukou, Pavel Bialianau, Andrei Shulhat, Maksim Pliatniou, Yauhen Merunko, Yahor Bahdzevich, Mikhail Zarankou, and terminate the criminal prosecution against them. 2. decriminalize defamation offenses and abolish articles of the Criminal Code that provide for liability for insulting the state and state symbols, namely Articles 188, 189, 367, 368, 369, 369-1, 370 and 391 of the Criminal Code, and stop all ongoing criminal cases under these articles; 3. Immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repression.

Human Rights Center Viasna

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