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Statement on recognition of seven political prisoners

2022 2022-12-30T16:36:27+0300 2022-12-30T16:42:14+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Joint statement of the human rights community of Belarus

29 December 2022

We, representatives of the human rights community of Belarus, have once again noted that imprisonment and criminal liability for various protest activities are used by the authorities to suppress public and political activism, dissent, and anti-war protests.

The criminal legislation was considerably toughened and amended with new constituent elements of crimes which are only used for political repressions.

Groups of citizens united by social or political interests, criticizing the actions of the authorities and demanding changes in the country and its policies are arbitrarily declared extremist by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and KGB. This, in turn, opens the floodgates for the unreasonable prosecution and imprisonment of their participants and contributors as a disproportionate restriction on the right of association and freedom of expression. Thus:

  1. Uladzislau Vaina was sentenced under Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code to two years of imprisonment for forwarding videos of military airplanes to a Telegram channel arbitrarily recognized as an extremist formation;
  2. Valiantsin Fedarenka was taken into custody under Art. 361-4 of the Criminal Code;
  3. Viktar Viarshyna was detained under Art. 361-2 for transferring money to support an "extremist formation."
  4. Aliaksandr Ziyazetdzinau was sentenced under Art. 361-2 of the Criminal Code to three years of imprisonment for donating to a protest media;
  5. Siarhei Nikitsiuk was convicted under Art. 368 and 361-4 for leaving a comment "Renegger" addressed to Aliaksandr Lukashenka and forwarding a photo of a referendum ballot to a Telegram channel recognized as an extremist formation;
  6. Anastasiya Petrachenka was detained under Art. 361-2 for donating to a Belarusian volunteer battalion under the Armed Forces of Ukraine;
  7. Mikalai Kuliashou was detained under part 3 of Art. 371 and part 1 of Art. 361 of the Criminal Code for assisting citizens, who are persecuted for political reasons, in secretly crossing the Belarusian border.

We recognize these people as political prisoners following paragraph 3.1(a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners and demand that the Belarusian authorities:

  • Immediately release political prisoners Uladzislau Vaina, Valiantsin Fedarenka, Viktar Viarshyna, Aliaksandr Ziyazetdzinau, Siarhei Nikitsiuk, Anastasiya Petrachenka, and Mikalai Kuliashou;
  • Immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repression against the country's population.

Viasna Human Rights Center;
Belarusian PEN;
Belarusian Helsinki Committee;
Legal Initiative;
Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House.

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