Mikalai Autukhovich cuts abdomen to protest harassment

2013 2013-09-19T13:34:48+0300 2013-09-19T13:39:01+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/autuhovich-mikalaj.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Mikalai Autukhovich. Photo by Yulia Darashkevich.

Mikalai Autukhovich. Photo by Yulia Darashkevich.

Mikalai Autukhovich inflicted a serious bodily injury on himself, the Platform human rights NGO reports, quoting a confidential source in the Hrodna-based prison No. 1. According to the source, Autukhovich cut his abdomen with a razor blade in protest against the ongoing harassment from the prison authorities.

Over the past two years, the political prisoner has been twice charged with violating prison restrictions, a few weeks ahead of the expected lifting of all previously imposed sanctions.

As it became known to the HRC "Viasna", the prisoner learned on September 4 that prison supervisors charged him with violation of the correctional institution’s internal regulations, just one month ahead of the expected lifting of all penalties from him. Mikalai Autukhovich was accused of allegedly failing to be in bed after the bedtime signal. Meanwhile, the political prisoner says he strictly observes the prison rules.

According to the same source, such emotional behavior of Autukhovich after the imposition of a penalty is due to the fact that Mikalai carefully avoids any violations, giving no occasion for the administration to "award" him with another punishment. As the source said, "it is not difficult for him, as he used to serve in the army, to wake up in the morning and to go to bed on time. He is used to such a regime. He is also used to keeping silence for six months, saying just a few standard phrases a day, in order to prevent further provocations."

Thus, the prison administration is trying to preserve for Autukhovich the status of a "violator of the prison rules." It is in this status that can be used as a reason to convict him under Article 411 of the Criminal Code (“deliberate disobedience to the administration of the detention facility that executes a sentence of imprisonment”) and to add an additional term to the sentence, or to appoint a preventive supervision after his release.

“In prison, every prisoner can be charged under Article 411,” says Platform’s director Andrei Bandarenka. “All they need is a report from any supervisor. I think there is no need to say that for our prison system this is a lifestyle. In this way, they charge all who are disloyal or when they have been ordered to do so. In Mikalai Autukhovich’s case, I'm sure it was a scheduled report from the supervisor, and there could have been more of them. I should separately emphasize the imperfection of the system of correction, which forces prisoners to take extreme measures to protect themselves. In fact, Mikalai faced the fact: we will crush you, convict you, extend the term, and you will not even utter a word. Late for bed – go to court! Got up in the wrong way – get a new term! All according to the routine – a trial and a sentence in any case! The result is terrible.”

The Platform Innovation NGO sent requests to the prison administration and the Department of Corrections of the Ministry of Interior to inquire about the incident.