Hary Pahaniayla: Additional prison term means Dziadok wasn't broken

2015 2015-03-02T12:36:30+0300 2015-03-02T12:36:30+0300 en

Political prisoners have always been treated in a biased way: if you are against the system, you must be broken down.

Hary Pahaniayla, a human rights defender from the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, told charter97.org that additional jail terms are often applied to Belarusian prisoners. Prison authorities especially like to use the law on violating prison rules, which we have from the Soviet system, against political prisoners to punish them and scare the others.

– What can you say about the addition prison term for Mikalai Dziadok?

– We expected it. Unfortunately, Belarus still uses this practice when prisoners receive such “gifts” from the authorities. They get additional terms for failure to obey prison officers and disciplinary sanctions for violating prison rules. The Criminal Code has a special article for such offences.

We supposed the authorities could do it. Mikalai Dziadok has several sanctions that could result in one more prison term.

– Giving a year in prison for failure to observe prison rules is ridiculous.

– Of course, it is. The law is applied to political prisoners on formal grounds. Moreover, they are punished for minor things and they are provoked to commit violations. The prison authorities have an opportunity to press on an inmate and hold him under threat of using this criminal article and prolonging his prison term when his sentence is about to expire.

– His prison term was to expire in three days.

– That's what I am saying. It is not the first time when this practice has been applied to political prisoners. It is and will be done systematically.

– But why Dziadok?

– The primary reason is that he a political prisoner. The prison administration tried either to break him down by making him observe prison rules or to make him cooperate with prison officers (which is a usual thing) or to punish him and scare other people. What about political prisoners, it is just the continuation of the repression that was used against them unfairly and illegally. It is clear why our authorities and prison administrations do it.

– Do you mean they failed to break him down?

– Of course they failed. A defeated person will keep a low profile, obey all legal and illegal orders to survive in prison conditions, get an early release and other preferences. It is clear that he won't be released in the upcoming amnesty. I do not rule out that it has relation to this year's election campaign. The authorities do not want to free him now. He was probably made to commit violations to give them a ground to apply this article. Our authorities, including the judicial branch, work formally. They do not have objective reasons. They don't care about your personality. You are a political prisoner, so you must be broken down.

– Meantimes, the authorities again try to create a positive picture for the EU...

– They always do it. The Belarusian authorities would like to get certain preferences from economic cooperation with the West, but they do not want any changes in the human rights situation. They think human rights are an internal affair of the state and any interference with internal affairs is unacceptable.

Mikalai Dziadok was to be released on March 3, 2015. He was tried on February 26 and sentenced to one more year of imprisonment.

Human rights defenders note that harassment of opposition members, journalist and small businessmen has increased in the last months. New political prisoners have appeared, the number of preventive arrests of activists has grown, a number of new repressive laws have been adopted, independent websites have been blocked, pressure on small business has increased. Experts explain it with the fact that many EU officials close their eyes to human rights violations in Belarus.