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Religious Discrimination

2002 2002-11-27T10:00:00+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Here are witnesses of Belarusian Hindu believers (“Kaylasa’s World”) persecuted by the authorities.

Tatsiana Maiko: “On July 13, 2002 I was going to park with my friends and coreligionists. The police beset the road to the park. They claimed from us to get into their car, without answering why we should do it. In some time, after speaking on their walkie-talkies, they pulled us into the car and took to Miensk Frunzienskaie borough board of internal affairs (BBIA), then drove to the detention center in Akrestsin Street where detained us till July 15 when we were tried. The court found me and my friends guilty of holding an unauthorized procession. In the detention center we were kept in a small room where we could lie in one line, one by one. At the police board they took our fingerprints as if we were real criminals and didn’t even let us to wash hands after this. It was very insulting. We didn’t eat anything at the detention center, expressing our disagreement with the arrest. The guards prohibited us to pray there and threatened to take us to the room where one can only stood otherwise. Some women needed means of hygiene and we had to ask them many times to make them phone our friends so that they could bring them. The police didn’t inform anybody about our detention. Some of us left their little children at home. Among us there was a woman on the eighth month of pregnancy. They pulled her into the car like other ones. There also was a blind fellow. They insulted him and released him only late in the evening, but detained his wife that looked after him instead. All these events made a terrible impression”.

Siarhiei Ramanchyk: “On July 13 I was going to meditation together with my friends. The police stopped us for allegedly unauthorized procession and started to pull us into their car without any explanations. They took us to the police board and composed reports of administrative violation. They didn’t know what to do with us, their authorities phoned somebody for instructions. I was taken to the detention center together with other detainees and detained there till trial. There I was found guilty of participation in an unauthorized procession and fined 200 000 Belarusian rubles”.

Ulada Ashmaryna: “Members proposed me to take part in an unauthorized meditation, held by the group of Hindu believers “Kaylasa’s World”. I know these people very well, we are coreligionists, that’s why I agreed. The meditation was to have taken place in the park of the 60th anniversary of USSR on off day. We didn’t intend to draw public attention and had no political aims. The meditation place was somewhere in the outskirts, where there few people on Saturdays. We gathered together and decided to go further into the park. At that time there appeared a police car that moved after us, keeping at distance. In several minutes there arrived a police bus. The police detained us, talked on their walkie-talkies, then said that we were detained for identification. They didn’t want to talk with us. When we said that they violated our rights, they rudely pulled us into the bus. The policemen twisted people’s arms and threatened to massacre them. They detained us for more than three hours at Miensk Frunzienskaie BBIA, then started to interrogate, made photos and took our fingerprints. I remained of the films about terrible criminals. They couldn’t decide what to do with us. Then they released some of us and took the rest to the detention center in Akrestsin Street. The trials that took place on Monday showed that everything was planned and decided before them. They made us take their advocate, telling us that they would return us to the detention center for several days. The policemen who detained us participated in the trials as witnesses. The judges paid no attention to contradictions in their testimonies. Neither were they interested in the fact that the police violated the Administrative Code – those who detained us didn’t compose the detention reports, other policemen made it for them. Among the witnesses there were also policemen who didn’t detain us. The verdicts were very similar. I had the impression that they differed only in the sum of fine and the detainees’ names. After one of the trials a policemen grinned and said: “What do you want from a woman with tied eyes?” He meant Themis, the old-time goddess of Law and Order. We were told that our asset would be confiscated if we didn’t pay the fines. Our group has many students, some of us have small children, we simply have no money”.

Volha Kavaliova: “They started to seize us and pull to the car. Some of us tried to escape, others (I was among them) sat down on the ground and refused to go. Two policemen twisted my arms and led me to the car. They took away our ritual things. They insulted us at Frunzienskaie BBIA, mocked at our faith and casually handled the ritual things. At first they wanted to release us. Then there came a man in plain clothes. He spoke in a very disparagmental way. He didn’t tell us his name and position, but it was him who decided that only those who those who had children, the pregnant woman and the blind man could be released and ordered to take the rest of us to the detention center. They detained us for a very long time. They allowed us to go to the lavatory and gave us water only after long and insistent pleas. They treated us n a very humiliating way – shouted, threatened to massacre us and take to the black hole. We went on a hunger-strike and drank only water to express our protests against such treatment.”.

Maryia Viatkina: “They detained us for alleged identification, but weren’t satisfied with it and then took me to Akrestsin Street and detained there for 2 days. They paid no attention to the fact that my husband was blind and needed my care. Then I stood trial and was fined 200 000 Belarusian rubles”.

Siarhiei Silibin: “Among us there was a woman on the eighth month of pregnancy and a blind man. They were seized and pulled into the car together with other ones. A man in plain in clothes behaved like a real gangster. He didn’t tell us his name and tore away video camera from one of our girls. At Frunzienski BBIA they said that we would be released after identification. In five hours we were accused of holding an unauthorized procession. They interrogated the young pregnant woman for it was easy to intimidate her. During the interrogation we expressed our indignation, said that we were Hindu believers and wanted to meditate in the empty park. ”They released only the blind man, the pregnant woman and those who had children, but gave them call-ups for trials. At the detention center we went on hunger strike. On July 15 there were quick and unjust trials”.

Excerpt from the ruling of Miensk Frunzienski borough court: On July 15, 2002 judge on administrative cases Iu.Iu. Lukomskaia considered the materials, submitted by Head of Miensk Frunzienski BBIA concerning:

Ulada Vitalieuna Ashmaryna, born on August 26, 1974 and found that: on July 13, 2002, from 4.40 to 4.45 p.m. U.V. Ashmaryna participated in the street procession along Matusievich Street organized by the religious denomination “Kailasa’s World”. There was no permission of Miensk regional executive committee which is violation of the established order of holding street actions. She didn’t take the blame at trial, explaining that she was going to the part together with other participants of “Kailasa’s World” for collective meditation that had no intention to draw public attention. There wasn’t any promotion. Advertisements about this action and invitations to it were placed at Induists’ sites. The religious denomination “Kailasa’s World” is unregistered. (…) According to Article No. 2 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus of December 30, 1997 “About assemblies, meetings, street actions, demonstrations and pickets” a street action includes mass movement of citizens on the pavements and roads along streets, alleys, avenues and squares with the aim of public expression of religious views. According to the testimony of R.D. Dzhalilau an organized group of 15-17 people in black clothes moved along Matusievich Street. On their faces there were pained similar symbols. In their hands they had wooden sticks and tridents. They also carried a poster and a flag, hit tambours and cried out something. The group drew attention of passers-by. A girl who was detained afterwards, fixed the action with a video camera. The police proposed the action participants to disperse before detaining them, but they refused. After the policemen decided to detain the action participants as there wasn’t any permission for it.”

Prepared by Palina Stsiepanienka, based on materials of PA HRC “Viasna”

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