Jerzy Buzek, the President of the European Parliament demanded that Belarusian authorities release from prison Zmitser Bandarenka, the coordinator of the civic campaign “European Belarus” and a close co-worker of a former presidential candidate, Andrei Sannikov. Bandarenka was detained after the December 19th demonstration against election fraud, charged with organizing and participating in riots, and sentenced to two years in a Soviet-style high-security prison camp.
– I call on Belarusian authorities to immediately release Mr Bandarenka and all other political prisoners. They don’t belong in prison, but rather among family and friends. True leaders listen to the voice of their nation, and dictators imprison them. – said Jerzy Buzek on air in Polish Radio yesterday.
The regime, according to Buzek, treats Bandarenka in an “inhumane and disgusting” manner. The prisoner has serious spine problems and requires treatment and rehabilitation. “Unfounded detention of Banderenka leads only to a deterioration of his health condition and can cause a permanent disability” – he added.
„Zmitser Bandarenka, like thousand of other nameless heros, fights for freedom, democracy and better future for all Belarusians. They need our recognition and support now. The European Parliament has been supporting Belarusian democratic opposition for many years now. Belarusians deserve to have their country among free and democratic European nations.” – said Buzek.
On July 26th, Bandarenka is scheduled to undergo a spine surgery. “It seems like the surgery is not that complicated, but he will need 6-month long rehabilitation after it. He was told he would stay in the hospital for a maximum of two weeks. – Volha Bandarenka told Belsat.
Prison authorities gave Bandarenka an ultimatum: either he will hale a surgery or he will be immediately taken to the prison camp. His relatives complained that Bandarenka has not undergone required medical examination and was not allowed to consult a doctor. – Many people have told me that the surgery is not dangerous, and I am not worried about it, I have a faith in doctors. But I am really concerned with the lack of normal rehabilitation afterwards. – said Volha Bandarenka, his wife. She is convinced that in absence of proper care after the surgery, her husband will become handicapped.
Zmitser Bandarenka has received support from friends from the civic camping „European Belarus”. – What Belarusian government is doing to Zmitser Bandarenka can be only described as a torment. A forced surgery is an act of violence against of the leaders of Belarusian opposition. The results of the surgery are unpredictable, Zmitser is threatened with disability. The refusal to allow for independent medical consultation, enforcing a date of surgery, and denial of access to rehabilitation – is nothing else but a return of the political repressions from Soviet Union era. – wrote in their statement activists of the “European Belarus.
They also called on the representatives of the democratic countries in the entire world, politicians, artists, scientists and everyone who is not oblivious to human suffering, to support Zmitser Bandarenka. – It is necessary to organize actions in front of Belarusian embassies, address human rights groups and democratic governments, and highlight the fact that in Belarusian prisons the regime opponents are tormented and tortured. Belarus now, as never before, needs your solidarity – they wrote in a statement.