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

2022 2022-08-15T22:47:12+0300 2022-08-15T22:47:12+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.

On the second anniversary of the dramatic elections in Belarus, Viasna human rights defenders hung up posters on a street in Vilnius with famous quotations of political prisoners Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich, and Uladzimir Labkovich.


The quotes were placed near a landmark building - where the leader of the 1863–1864 uprising, Konstanty Kalinowski, was held before his death penalty.


On 9 August an exhibition Colors of the Belarusian Revolution was opened in Lviv, featuring portraits of Belarusian political prisoners. During the event the political prisoners of human rights Viasna were also remembered.

It has been 13 months since Viasna Chairman Ales Bialiatski, his deputy Valiantsin Stefanovich, and lawyer Uladzimir Labkovichhave been behind bars.

Recently, Ales Bialiatski sent a letter dated August 4. In it, he reports that his health is normal and that he hopes there will be no more heat this year.

Valiantsin Stefanovich: Human rights advocacy is not always a pleasant job

Political prisoner Viasna deputy chairman and FIDH vice-president Valiantsin Stefanovich shared his thoughts about imprisonment and human rights defense in a letter:

“Who said that human rights advocacy is a pleasant job, trips, meetings with interesting people, etc.? No, it can also be like this. Endless stay in jail, without hope and without release.”

Marfa Rabkova: “Progress is inevitable, you can slow it down, but you cannot stop it”

The hearings of the criminal case against the coordinator of the Viasna volunteer service Marfa Rabkova, volunteer Andrei Chapiuk, and eight more political prisoners continue at Minsk Municipal Court.

Meanwhile, Marfa has sent a mail from behind bars, in which she notes that she has problems with correspondence, but does not lose her optimism.

Activist writes that she is fine, and there was a short break between court sessions. Now there is probably a debate going on in court:

“We're getting ready for the important part of the trial - the debates. They will last about two weeks, followed by the last word and the verdict. I think at the beginning of September everything will be over. That's why I'm getting ready morally for the fact that I will soon leave the pre-trial detention center and move to a penal colony.

Marfa Rabkova's portraits appeared in Palitviazynki and Unlived Life art projects

Portrait of Marfa Rabkova by Hanna Tatur

Palitviazynki is an Instagram project created by journalist Yauheniya Douhaya and artist Hanna Tatur, which is dedicated to female political prisoners in Belarus. Project authors make portraits of imprisoned women and tell their stories. At the moment, there are 144 women incarcerated for political reasons, Marfa Rabkova among them.


In the Unlived Life art project, artists illustrate many wonderful moments taken away from political prisoners that will now never come true. Marfa Rabkova dreamed of planting an apple orchard together with her father. Marfa's father passed away while the human rights defender was behind bars. She was never released to say goodbye to him.

Leanid Sudalenka did not believe that there was a war in Ukraine

Relatives of the head of the Homieĺ Viasna branch Leanid Sudalenka say that the political prisoner's health is normal. But the correspondence is a problem.

He only gets every other mail. He learns about many things when we tell him. For example, we told him about the war in Ukraine. When we told him about Mariupol, at first he didn't believe us, though we had read something wrong.

It's been a long time since we heard from Viasna volunteer Tatsiana Lasitsa.


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