Viasna calls to drop criminal charges against volunteer Andrei Chapiuk
Minsk – October 13, 2020
On October 2, Andrei Chapiuk, a volunteer working with the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, was detained by GUBAZIK officers (the Interior Ministry's Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption) in Minsk. His apartment was searched.
On October 9, Andrei was charged under Part 2 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code (participation in riots) and taken to pre-trial detention center No. 1 in Minsk.
Throughout the presidential election period and after the election, members of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" have faced pressure and persecution from the authorities, including criminal prosecution, administrative detention and blocking of the organization's website.
On August 31, GUBAZIK officers detained Pavel Harbuz, a volunteer of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, as a suspect under Part 2 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code. He was taken into custody and placed in pre-trial detention center No. 1, and the apartment where he lived with his family was searched. Ten days later, Pavel was released on bail but remained a suspect.
Pavel Harbuz was soon forced to leave Belarus and spoke in detail about the circumstances of his detention and the threats against Viasna from GUBAZIK officers, who threatened to arrest every member of the organization and to put an end to its activities.
On September 17, GUBAZIK officers detained a member of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” and the coordinator of the organization’s volunteer service Marfa Rabkova. On September 25, she was charged under Part 3 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code. Since then, Marfa has been in pre-trial detention center No. 1 in Minsk.
The three activists, Marfa Rabkova, Pavel Harbuz, and Andrei Chapiuk, helped political prisoners. Their peaceful human rights activities were aimed at assisting people who suffer for their political views and beliefs, for the protection of their rights.
We, members of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", protest against the undisguised persecution and pressure on members of our organization and volunteers for their legitimate human rights activities.
We remind that such activities are guaranteed to human rights defenders by the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and international human rights standards, including the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, approved by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998.
We regard the persecution of Andrei Chapiuk in connection with his legitimate human rights activities as a continuation of the campaign of intimidation and pressure on the organization as a whole.
We reiterate that we will not cease our activities despite attacks and intimidation.
We will continue our human rights activities for the benefit of the entire Belarusian people!
We call on the authorities of the Republic of Belarus to:
- immediately release Viasna’s human rights activist Andrei Chapiuk and drop the criminal charges he is facing;
- stop all attempts of pressure and persecution against members of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and other Belarusian human rights activists.