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Eleven more people prosecuted for protest recognized political prisoners

2022 2022-08-08T11:58:35+0300 2022-08-08T11:58:35+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/marsh_minsk_06.08.202023.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Joint statement by the Belarusian human rights community

August 5, 2022

In relation to the indictment, pre-trial detention, and custodial sentences on charges of group actions that grossly violate public order under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code in relation to Aksana Aliakseyeva, Andrei Asmalouski, Dzmitryi Brel, Katsiaryna Hlinskaya, Mikalai Kazlou, Antanina Kavaliova, Anton Maslyka, Artur Smaliakou, Halina Tarnouskaya, Yuryi Charapniou, direction to the correctional facility of Aliaksandr Kopats for serving his sentence of freedom restriction under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code, we reiterate the position set out in the joint statement of the human rights community of August 10, 2020, and would like to note the following:

Freedom of peaceful assembly is guaranteed by Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This freedom is not subject to any restrictions other than those established by law and necessary in a democratic society for the purposes of national and public security, public order, public health, and morals, or the protection of the rights, and freedoms of others.

The post-election protests were spontaneous, self-organized, and were caused by distrust of the results of the August 9, 2020, presidential election, which was marred by numerous violations and fraud and was not recognized by the international community as democratic, fair, and free.

Citizens assembled peacefully and posed no threat to national or public security. However, the demonstrators were attacked by special units of the Interior Ministry with disproportionate use of physical force, special equipment and weapons.

For the first time in the history of Belarus, rubber bullets and water cannons were used against peaceful demonstrators. A considerable amount of damage was inflicted by the use of stun grenades.

In our statement of August 10, 2020, the Belarusian human rights community condemned the actions of law enforcement agencies and placed all responsibility for what happened on August 9 and 10 on the authorities of Belarus.

A number of individuals have been arrested and detained as part of the government crackdown on anti-war protests following the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

We assess the persecution of the individuals mentioned above as politically motivated, as it is related solely to their exercise of freedom of peaceful assembly and expression in the post-election period and recognize them as political prisoners.

We also note that in the midst of a profound human rights crisis, it is unacceptable to use the tools of criminal prosecution to restrict freedom of expression further.

In this regard, we call on the Belarusian authorities to:

  • Immediately release Aksana Aliakseyeva, Andrei Asmalouski, Dzmitryi Brel, Katsiaryna Hlinskaya, Mikalai Kazlou, Antanina Kavaliova, Anton Maslyka, Artur Smaliakou, Halina Tarnouskaya, Yuryi Charapniou, and Aliaksandr Kopats and stop their criminal prosecution.
  • Immediately release all political prisoners, as well as other individuals detained in connection with their exercise of freedom of peaceful assembly in the post-election period, reconsider politically motivated cases, and stop political repression in the country.

Human Rights Center Viasna

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