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Statement of the Viasna Human Rights Center on the Day of Political Prisoners

2024 2024-05-21T17:25:25+0300 2024-05-21T17:25:25+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Statement of the Viasna Human Rights Center on the Day of Political Prisoners

On May 21, on the third anniversary of the death of political prisoner Vitold Ashurak, Viasna Human Rights Center recalls the victims of the totalitarian regime: political prisoners Mikalai Klimovich, Aliaksandr Kulinich, Ales Pushkin, Vadzim Khrasko, and others who died during the suppression of peaceful protests, and declares:

  • deep sorrow for the Belarusians who died for their beliefs keeps making us draw the attention of the world community to the tragedy of the Belarusian people, who have been taken hostage by the power ambitions of the dictatorships of Aliaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin;

  • the inhumane policy of arbitrary criminal and administrative prosecution of dissidents and opponents of the regime is criminal per se and must be stopped immediately, and those responsible for its unleashing and implementation must be brought to justice;

  • since 2020, the result of this criminal policy has been the imprisonment for political reasons in inhumane conditions of at least 3,200 people (including 572 women) recognized by the human rights community as political prisoners, 1,374 (including 168 women) of whom are currently in places of detention, where the vast majority of them has deeply discriminatory, especially harsh conditions of detention;

  • The release of all political prisoners, the review of their sentences and rehabilitation remains an urgent priority issue, which should be considered in taking measures against the regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka at any level;

  • the authorities continue to persecute the participants of the 2020 protests, systematically crackdown on Belarusians for exercising freedom of expression at various time, and also increasingly extend criminal persecution to new social groups on increasingly senseless grounds;

  • politically motivated criminal sentences have been handed down against more than 5,000 people; those who were punished without imprisonment are under daily pressure and the threat of tougher penalties;

  • a number of political prisoners, including Siarhei Tsikhanouski, Mikalai Statkevich, Maryia Kalesnikava, Viktar Babaryka, have been held incommunicado for more than a year; it is a form of torture and it creates wide opportunities for inhuman treatment and poses a threat to their lives;

  • Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski is held in a high security colony on politically motivated charges, and a number of human rights defenders, trade union leaders, lawyers, journalists, and priests continue to be held in colonies, which is incompatible with the state's obligations to ensure rights and freedoms;

  • several hundred political prisoners are particularly vulnerable for various reasons and are suffering in colonies and prisons to a greater extent due to their old age, disability, and special family circumstances; their release should be a primary task that does not tolerate discussions and excuses.

Torture, including under the guise of disciplinary punishments and measures to maintain order, in temporary detention facilities, colonies, and prisons must be stopped immediately and unconditionally. In this regard, we call on the international community to take urgent, suitable, and effective measures that will put an end to this shameful phenomenon.

We repeat the statement of the Belarusian human rights community that the cessation of torture, intimidation, persecution, and the release of political prisoners are unconditional and essential prerequisites for the beginning of any genuine political dialogue and the restoration of national consensus in the face of the threat of loss of Belarusian statehood and sovereignty in light of geopolitical processes in recent years.

Every day of delay will not only bring new victims, but also involve more and more people who have not yet been involved in crimes against the Belarusian people in their commission, delaying the prospect of restoring civil peace, becoming a real threat to national security.

We, the Viasna human rights defenders, will continue to seek and find all possible means to support victims of politically motivated persecution, despite the increasing targeting of our organization and its members, volunteers, and other Belarusian human rights defenders. Our voice in their support and protection, reinforced many times by the support of fellow human rights defenders, will continue to be heard at all information and political levels. We will consistently strive to achieve one of our most important goals: bringing to justice those responsible for crimes against humanity, because it is impunity that strengthens dictatorships and fuels their support.

We urge, despite the threats of the regime, not to weaken solidarity with political prisoners and people who are experiencing all kinds of political persecution. We are sure that despite the increasing persecution, the potential of mutual assistance and mutual support, invisible to the authorities, has not yet been exhausted.

Freedom for political prisoners!

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