#FreeViasna: Weekly news digest on Viasna’s imprisoned human rights defenders
On September 17, #FreeViasna campaign of solidarity with the imprisoned Viasna members was launched. Here’s the latest news about them.
Marfa Rabkova, Andrei Chapiuk, and eight other political prisoners will be sentenced on September 6, 2022
It became known that on September 6 at 3 pm the Minsk Municipal Court will announce the sentence to Marfa Rabkova, Andrei Chapiuk, and eight other political prisoners: Akikhiro Hayeuski-Hanada, Aliaksandr Frantskevich, Aliaksei Halauko, Aliaksandr Kazlianka, Pavel Shpetny, Mikita Dranets, Andrei Marach, and Danila Chul.
The trial commenced on April 25, 2022. Judge Siarhei Khrypach is presiding over the case; the state prosecution is represented by the prosecutor Raman Biziuk. Political prisoners are all together charged under ten articles of the Criminal Code.
Tygodnik Powszechny, a Polish weekly magazine, published an interview with Marfa Rabkova’s husband Vadzim Zharomski, and her colleague Natallia Satsunkevich.
Marfa Rabkova’s portrait appeared in the #FramedInBelarus project
The project was initiated by the artist Rufina Bazlova. It aims to tell a story about each wrongfully convicted Belarusian through their portraits using the traditional Belarusian red-thread embroidery. Everyone can join the project with their artwork by filling out a form.
Uladzimir Labkovich: “It's very hard to stay here so indefinitely long”
Uladzimir Labkovich, a political prisoner and Viasna human rights defender, was touched to receive a parcel from strangers and sent a letter in response:
“It's so nice and inspiring [to receive a package]. First of all, as a small message. Because it is very important to know that you are not alone, that there are people waiting for you, remembering you.
... I somehow completely lost hope that there is a way out of here, that I will be eventually released. It's very hard to stay here so indefinitely long,” writes Labkovich.
He notes that he spends his time reading. Recently, Uladzimir finished rereading 1984 by George Orwell in Belarusian translation.
The human rights defender writes that after over a year in custody his health has deteriorated greatly; he suffers from headaches, and his eyesight became significantly impaired too.
Ales Bialiatski is being held in poor conditions
As it became known, the political prisoner, Viasna chairman Ales Bialiatski is being held in pre-trial detention center No.1 in the so-called “special corridor”, a semi-basement room with poor conditions.
During this year, Bialiatski has been severely restricted in his correspondence.
On August 28, 2022, the Museum of Free Belarus hosted an activity Wish a political prisoner a happy birthday, reports Belarusian Radio Racyja. Belarusians in Warsaw gather on the last days of each month to sign cards for those political prisoners whose birthday will be next month. Our colleagues Ales Bialiatski and Leanid Sudalenka are among the political prisoners celebrating their birthdays in September.
Viasna member Alena Laptsionak told the event participants about the criteria by which one becomes a political prisoner, and also mentioned the head of Viasna Ales Bialiatski, who is imprisoned by the regime for the second time:
“If we talk about my friend Ales Bialiatski, when he was in prison for the first time—he got convicted in 2011—correspondence with him did not interrupt. And Ales wrote three books while in prison.”
The investigation of the criminal case against Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich, and Uladzimir Labkovich was extended until October 14. They remain in pre-trial detention.
150 sticker packs will be sent to women inmates to emotionally support them
For the second anniversary of the women's rallies, the Solidarity Card Workshop, along with the #FreeViasna campaign, published a call for writing wishes for incarcerated women. One could fill out an online form and volunteers would transfer the wishes onto artists' postcards. A positive sticker pack was also put in every envelope.
Among the recipients are imprisoned Viasna human rights defenders Tatsiana Lasitsa and Marfa Rabkova. In total, at least 153 women political prisoners are currently behind bars.
Recently, there has been no news from the head of the Viasna Homieĺ branch Leanid Sudalenka and his assistant Tatsiana Lasitsa.
You can find more news about imprisoned Viasna human rights defenders on the website freeviasna.org