Imprisoned Belarusian Activists Face Pressure in Prison
Freedom House condemns recent pressure on prominent Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski and youth leader Zmitser Dashkevich while in prison, and reiterates its call for their immediate release as well as the release of other political prisoners.
Ales Bialiatski, incarcerated at the Bobruisk penal colony, was transferred recently to the colony’s isolation ward reportedly right before his birthday on September 25 to prevent him from receiving birthday greetings.Since Bialiatski was imprisoned on August 4, 2011, his health has deteriorated and he has faced severe psychological pressure. Bialiatski, head of the human rights center Viasna, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison in retribution for his efforts to assist those who were arrested following the December 2010 elections, which were marred by serious vote violations and a crackdown on those who protested election irregularities.
Zmitser Dashkevich, leader of the Young Front movement, is currently serving his prison sentence at the Mazyr penal colony, and went on a hunger strike more than a week ago to protest his severe treatment after he was recently transferred to an isolated cell at the penal colony. Dashkevich, who has repeatedly been targeted by the Belarusian authorities because of his political activities, was sentenced to two years in jail after being found guilty in March 2011 of assaulting two people in Minsk in December 2010, one day before Belarus' presidential election. He was sentenced to another year in prison on August 28, 2012 for “systematic and aggressive refusal to follow instructions of the penitentiary administration.”
Belarus is one of the most repressive regimes in the world, ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom of the Press 2012 and Freedom on the Net 2012.
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