Belarusian authorities expand their legislative attacks on human rights defenders and organisations
On 21 December 2021, the Belarusian parliament adopted legislation re-criminalising the conduct of non-registered organisations and punishing by fine or imprisonment of up to 2 years for participation in the activities of non-registsered political parties, other public associations, religious organisations, or funds. This legislation, which amends the Criminal Code, goes into effect today, 21 January 2022 and continues an increasing crackdown by Belarusian authorities on human rights defenders and organisations.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Anastasya Mirontsava
Anastasya Mirontsava is a 25-year-old student and artist. She has been behind bars since 16 October 2020, when she was detained for having participated in the protests on the day of the presidential election, 10 August 2020. At her trial on 31 March 2021, she implored the court not to deprive her of her freedom any longer.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Rastsislau Stefanovich
Rastsislau Stefanovich is a 33-year-old designer and architect. He is married to Christina, with whom he has two children Nicole, who is eight, and Mark, who is six. As well as being an artist (see his drawings below), he is also a defender with the Minsk Zubrs American football team. In August 2020, he became a member of the expanded Coordination Council for the Transfer of Power, which was set up on the initiative of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to facilitate the democratic transfer of power in Belarus. There are about 5500 members of the expanded Coordination Council.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Maria Kalenik
Maria Kalenik is a 23-year-old student of the Belarusian State Academy of Arts. She was detained on 12 November 2020, accused of organising and participating in group actions that gravely violate public order. Her apartment was searched, and she was held in the KGB pre-trial prison. On 16 July 2021, she was sentenced to two years and six months in prison in a case known as “the student case”, which involved 12 defendants. Ksenia Syramalot, whose letter was previously published, was one of her co-defendants in the case.
Risking everything for truth in Russia
On the morning of 7 October 2021, 15 years after Anna Politkovskaya was shot in the elevator in her apartment building where she lived in Moscow, a colleague and I laid flowers on the corner of Drammensveien in Oslo, where the Russian embassy is located.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Pavel Seviarynets
Pavel Seviarynets is a writer, an opposition politician, co-founder of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party. He was detained on 7 June 2020 and held in pre-trial detention for several months before being charged with organising mass riots. In May 2021, he was sentenced to seven years in a penal colony. He is serving his sentence in Shklov in eastern Belarus.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Pavel Mazko
Pavel Mazko is a 19-year-old from Brest in south-western Belarus. He has been in pre-trial detention since 23 March 2021, charged in connection to his participation in the post-election protests in August 2020.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Andrei Aliaksandrau
Andrei Aliaksandrau is a journalist and human rights defender. He had been a media manager and deputy director of the Belarusian Private News Agency (BelaPAN) prior to his detention. In the 2010s, he lived and worked in the UK where he studied media management at the University of Westminster, before taking on roles at Index on Censorship and Article 19. Andrei was detained on 12 January 2021 alongside his partner, Irina Zlobina. He is being accused of financing the protests in Minsk by paying fines and reimbursing the costs for detention in temporary detention facilities for those detained during protests in Minsk. He has since been charged with high treason and, if convicted, could face up to 15 years in prison. He remains in pre-trial detention.
Civil society participation at the UN Human Rights Council cannot be an afterthought
HRHF joins dozens of organisations in a joint letter addressed to the President of the UN Human Rights Council, Ambassador of Austria to the UN in Geneva, Director-General of the United Nations at Geneva, and all Members and Observers of the UN Human Rights Council.