Whereabouts of political prisoner Zmitser Dashkevich unknown for a week (updated)

On 30 October Mazyr circuit court ruled to transfer the leader of the Young Front Zmitser Dashkevich (right) from Mazyr colony to the supermax jail. Since then and up to 8 November, the whereabouts of Zmitser remained unknown.

On 8 November it became known that the leader of the Young Front, political prisoner Zmitser Dashkevich, had been transferred to the prison in Hrodna.

Ales Kirkevich, Hrodna-based member of the Young Front, said: “Our people visited the jail and it was confirmed that Dashkevich was already there. But they were not told when exactly he was brought. It is highly possible that it happened on 7 November or during the night of 8 November. But now it doesn’t matter any longer. The person has been found, and this is the most important thing”.

Political prisoner missing for more than a week

For more than a week the family, friends and colleagues were looking for Dashkevich, who, by Mazyr circuit court ruling of 30 October, was to be transfered from colony to one of the three supermax jails – Hrodna, Mahiliou or Zhodzina. But Zmitser’s relatives were not informed to which jail he had been transferred. Activists of the Young Front visited all the three supermax prisons trying to find the political prisoner.

Anastasiya Palazhanka, an activist of the Young Front and Dashkevich’s fiancee, informs that in his last letter, sent from the Mazyr colony, Dashkevich assumed that he would be transferred to a new location via the transfer prison in Mahiliou.

The Hrodna prison was considered by Young front as the most likely place for Dashkevich’s new location. However, Hrodna-based activist Ales Kirkevich, who was involved in the search for his colleague, could not confirm it even as late as 5 November: “We went there last Friday and today [5 November]. In the morning he was not there, we were told so. There are two possibilities. Either they do not tell us, or he got into a long stage, the so-called “World Tour”. This is when a person is unjustly transported to one transit jail after another, so as to make him suffer. It can be equated with tortures”.

Mahiliou politician Dzmitry Salauyou visited the 4th Mahiliou prison in search for Dashkevich. The result was the same – negative.

Anastasiya Palazhanka, Dashkevich’s fiancee, went to search him in Zhodzina, but according to the prison’s staff, Zmitser was not there. She also recounts that it is not for the first time that Zmitser “disappears” in transit from one prison to another: “This happened to him previously, a year ago, in September, when he had a long transfer from the colony in Horki to the colony in Hlybokaye, and he was transferred via Vitsebsk prison. Then they were put together with Sannikau. For a while, they even travelled together. There were various provocations, decoy people, some psychologists from KGB who instigated conflicts. That means they were “worked on”, so that they were extremely nervous. I was detained those days, and my father published Zmitser’s letter about Vitsebsk prison, where he wrote: “I did not think I would get out of this alive”. Thus, the transfer is really such a test, when a person is most defenseless and you can do anything to him”.

It should be noted that this is the seventh Dashkevich’s transportation to the new place of imprisonment since December 2010.

Member of the European Parliament urges to stop persecution of Dashkevich

In connection with another trial of Zmitser Dashkevich, member of the European Parliament Marek Migalski (left) addressed to Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, Maira Mora, the Head of EU delegation to Belarus, and to Radoslaw Sikorski, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs.

According to Migalski, the verdict of the Mazyr court of 30 October is another attempt to put pressure on Dashkevich. He also drew attention to the fact that the oppositionist has been repeatedly coming under persecution on part of the colony administration, and most of his time in prison he had spent in punishment cell.

European MP noted that the Belarusian authorities continue harassment and pressure on political prisoners, and called for intervention in case of persecution of Zmitser Dashkevich.

Additionally, Migalski asked Maira Mora to visit Zmitser in prison and observe the conditions of the Young Front leader’s confinement, the attitude by the prison administration, and also to check his health condition.

European ambassador also addressed the Prosecutor General of Belarus. The Ambassador emphasized that he estimates the acting of the administration of the colony № 20 in Mazyr as pressure on the oppositionist, the example of torture and violence, and the new prison sentence that he received, which makes the conditions of his sentence rougher, as a way of isolation. Mr Migalski called to immediately cease pressure on Dashkevich, and provide him with decent living conditions while imprisoned.

On 24 March 2011 Zmitser Dashkevich was sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment for alleged hooliganism. The court found that on 18 December 2010 Dashkevich and another activist of the Young Front Eduard Lobau had beaten several passers-by in Minsk. Dashkevich and Lobau plead innocent and said that it was a provocation by secret service on the eve of the presidential election.

International human rights organization Amnesty International recognized Dashkevich as a prisoner of conscience.

On 28 August 2012, while serving a sentence in Hlybokaye prison, Dashkevich was charged with defiance of the prison administration and sentenced to one more year of imprisonment. Zmitser was soon transferred to serve his sentence in Mazyr, where on 30 October he had to go through another trial which ruled to transfer him to a supermax jail.

Zmitser Dashkevich has been leader of the Young Front since 2004. The Young Front is an international movement of the Belarusian youth, which was founded in 1997 and unites dozens of youth initiatives and organisations.

View Zmitser Dashkevich’s prisons on the map.
You can support the political prisoner with a letter or card. His new address is the following: 230023, Hrodna, Kirava St. 1. Prison №1. To Zmitser Dashkevich.

Also you can send a telegram to this address. In order to do so you should call from the landline phone to number 166. The cost of the telegram is low.

Anastasiya Palazhanka, the political prisoner’s fiancee, asked for words of support to Zmitser on her Facebook page, website of Nasha Niva reports.

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