Arbitrary detention of a Belarusian student opposed by university fellows
A student of the European Humanities University in exile Mikalai Dziadok has been behind bars for more than two months now. Dziadok was detained in the wake of the so-called "case of anarchists” in early September 2010. His fellow students have appealed to the international community with a request to protest against this detention, called 'arbitrary and illegal' by human rights defenders of Republic of Belarus.
Thursday, 25 November 2010
Mikalai Dziadok, a low residence student at European Humanities University (Vilnius, Lithuania), was detained on 3 September this year. However, he was not officially charged. Three days later Dziadok should have been released, but instead police decided to hold him in connection with an attack on the Trade Unions Palace in Minsk. Later, he was detained on several more occasions in cases of hooliganism and even theft, but again no formal charges were presented.
In this fashion the young man had spent nearly a month: brief moments of freedom, and then new arrests. The persistence of police has made it clear that Dziadok would not be let go easily, and that means soon a new case, more intense and more serious, would be fabricated against him.
Three day arrests of the student had lasted for nearly a month, until on 1October he was finally charged with hooliganism. According to human rights defenders, about 30 people, mostly activists of anarchist and environmental movements, were detained in connection with the August fire-bomb attack on the Russian embassy. But the case of Mikalai Dziadok is exceptional.
At a time when human rights activists took up Mikalai’s case and the youth was hoping for an early release, the investigation of his criminal case (Art. 339-2 of the Criminal Code) was extended to 6 months. In addition, the period of detention was prolonged from 3 to 5 months.
"In fact, people are being detained without a strict timeline. Mikalai Dziadok was held seven times for 72 hours each time on new charges. Practically, this way a person can be held in a pretrial detention indefinitely. This is unacceptable. It is called an arbitrary detention, and it is a clear cut violation of human rights,” Valiantsin Stefanovich from HR Centre Viasna commented.
Staying strong and optimistic
The young man, while living with no hope of a release, writes to his family that he is “staying strong and not losing." “The investigation didn’t succeed in playing on my initial bewilderment and embarrassment, and now they are trying to nag me by holding me in prison for months and hoping that I would surrender and start doing anything they would tell me,” Mikalai says in one of his letters to friends and family.
The gravity of the situation is very complex, since neither the young man nor his relatives and friends know why "a hunting season" on Mikalai was opened. Aliaksei, a friend, was also detained in “the anarchists case", but was released. According to Aliaksei, he was let go released for “a little favour" - he had to give a false testimony against Dziadok in a case concerning the organization of a street protest in 2009.
Being a loyal friend, he has not done so. Now he constant receives threats of the expulsion from university, while the Dziadok’s case remains in limbo.
EHU students decided to support Mikalai in jail writing an open letter to appeal to the media and statements to the Prosecutor General of Belarus and the Belarusian ambassador in Lithuania.
The statement released by students stresses the urgent need for a transparent and equitable solution. "We demand that the security agencies of Belarus either release Dziadok from custody for the lack of evidence linking him to any whatsoever offenses and crimes, or have an open and fair trial, " the statement says.
Students of European Humanities University have announced an indefinite action of solidarity with their peer. In the first phase they are going to send to the prisoner hundreds of letters of support.
But such measures are unlikely to make any serious changes, except boosting prisoner’s morale. Dziadok, without knowing it, is some kind of a threat to the authorities. It explains their desire to "frame" the young man by any means. Unfortunately, to get to know the truth is virtually impossible because of the opacity of the Belarusian justice system.