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"I started to lose consciousness," Vadzim Khizhniakou on the consequences of mold allergy in a prison cell

2024 2024-05-16T12:01:57+0300 2024-05-16T12:02:35+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

As part of the Week of Solidarity with Political Prisoners in Belarus, Viasna has prepared a number of videos where former political prisoners share their stories about sub-standard and untimely medical care in places of detention. Former political prisoner Vadzim Khizhniakou spoke about the failure to help him with mold allergy in Hrodna prison No. 1, where the artist Ales Pushkin died in July 2023, as well as about guards bullying a prisoner with a mental disorder. 

Vadzim Khizhniakou

The paramedic looked at me and said: "Well, he came around, so everything is fine"

"I can tell you a story that happened to me personally and made me choose between life and death. The story happened in a Hrodna prison: I had a conflict with the guards and I was sent to "travel the world": I changed cells daily or every two days. Once I ended up in a cell where everything was covered with gray mold. I'm allergic to it, and I knew about it. I immediately told them that I was allergic, I would feel bad, and I did not know what could happen to me. They ignored it. Moreover, they put me on the upper bed, where the political prisoners should lie, according to their rules. And there was mold all around me. I was inhaling the microparticles of mold all night and, in fact, all day.

On the third night I felt sick. I went to wash my face at the sink and at that moment I began to lose consciousness. I began to fall forward. And it was only because a cellmate caught me that I didn't smash my head. The cellmates started knocking on the door, and after a while the paramedic on duty came. He looked at me and said, "Well, he came around, so everything is fine." This happened to me one more time, and he said the same thing: "He came around, so everything is fine." And the third time there was a court session, and we were taken there. And during the trial I said that I don't get medical help. After that, I was transferred to another cell. I don't know what would have happened to me if I had stayed in that cell longer."

"They handcuffed his hands behind his back and so tightly that it hurt to move"

Vadzim also shared a story that happened to him during his transfer:

"One prisoner had some kind of schizophrenic episode. He stopped recognizing everyone and became violent. So what did they do?

Prisoners are usually handcuffed with their wrists in front. And so you spend the whole day in handcuffs: eating and going to the toilet. They [the guards] just couldn't think of anything smarter than to handcuff him behind his back and tighten the cuffs so hard that it hurt to move. I went to the toilet and saw that he was just lying face down, and his hands were handcuffed behind."

Watch the video on Viasna Tik-Tok.

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