Amnesty International refuses to declare Kavalenka prisoner of conscience

Polish MEP Marek Migalski, Kavalenka’s godfather within the framework of political prisoners adoption campaign initiated by Libereco organization, received this information from John Dalhuisen, Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International. Explaining his decision, the official reffered to evidence of Belarusian police officers, who stated Siarhei Kavalenka had struggled on arrest.

John Dalhuisen promises that the organization will continue to monitor the situation of Siarhei Kavalenka and take measures if necessary.

In his reply to Mr. Dalhuisen, Marek Migalski points out that he is convinced that Kavalenka’s conditions would become much better if he was declared as a prisoner of conscience. According to the MEP, the Belarusian opposition activist meets all the criteria to be recognized as such.

Moreover, Marek Migalski said that evidence by the people participating in repression should not be considered: “The obstacles to declare Siarhei Kavalenka as a prisoner of conscience are testimonies of police, that he had resisted arrest violently. If we were always guided by what the police in non- democratic countries say, we could not recognize anyone as a prisoner of conscience. I remember, from the days of my youth in communist Poland, when public officials, including police, testified always to the detriment of those who were under arrest.”

In Mr. Migalski’s opinion, it is extremely significant to pay particular attention to people like Syarhei Kavalenka, whose only crime was the suspension of white-red-white flag on the Christmas tree.

The activist of the Conservative Christian Party of the Belarusian People’s Front (CCP-BPF) was repeatedly detained for organising a number of protest actions. In May 2010 Siarhei Kavalenka received three-year suspended sentence for hanging out a white-red-white flag on the 40-meter New Year Tree in the center of Vitsebsk. This action was defined as «major violation of public order».

On December 19, 2011 Kavalenka was arrested in connection with criminal proceedings under Art. 415 of the Criminal Code (evasion of liberty restraint service). Being accused of violation of parole and facing three-year imprisonment on December, 20 he went on hunger-striking in protest.


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