Amnesty International calls Tsikhanouski, Babaryka, associates and bloggers prisoners of conscience
The Belarusian authorities “must end politically motivated prosecutions, intimidation, harassment and reprisals against Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s opponents and their supporters, civil society activists and independent media,” Amnesty International said today.
Amnesty International says it considers Siarhei Tsikhanouski and the eight men arrested alongside him (Yauhen Raznichenka, Dzmitry Furmanau, Uladzimir Navumik, Viarhili Ushak, Aliaksandr Aranovich, Siarhei Kalmykou, Vasil Babrouski and Artsiom Sakau) as prisoners of conscience, as they are detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights. The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release them, AI’s statement said.
Likewise, it believes that Viktar and Eduard Babaryka are prisoners of conscience, prosecuted solely for the peaceful expression of their political opinions.
Amnesty International also condemned the persecution of bloggers and journalists Siarhei Bahrou, Siarhei Latsinski, Ihar Losik, Uladzimir Niarosnki, Siarhei Piatrukhin, and Uladzimir Tsyhanovich. They are prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released, it said.
The statement stresses that the growing crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association in the context of the forthcoming election has exposed numerous other human rights issues, including the discrimination of women which has, at times, manifested as explicit misogyny, widely broadcast in the mainstream state-controlled media.
“The authorities must promptly, thoroughly, impartially, effectively and transparently investigate all reports of excessive use of force by law enforcement officers, and of ill-treatment of detainees, and all allegations of threats, assaults and abusive practices,” it said.
Amnesty International says there have also been multiple reports of ill-treatment of those detained during peaceful protests, citing the cases of Dzianis Urbanovich and Pavel Seviarynets.