Amnesty International considers Belarusian Dzmitry Paliyenka political prisoner


Amnesty International is calling on the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Dzmitry Paliyenka, a prisoner of conscience who has been imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

In April 2016, about 35 cyclists gathered in downtown Minsk to take part in the Critical Mass cycling event, an action that was aimed at ‘reclaiming the streets’, i.e. asserting their rights. Although the event was observed by a representative of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the riot police brutally detained several activists, including Paliyenka.

Paliyenka was charged with using violence against a police officer (Article 364 of the Criminal Code). In late August he was accused of… porno-peddling. The court found the activist guilty under the both arlicles: in October, 2016 he was sentenced to two years of impisonment with a two-year reprieve.

A court in Minsk revoked the suspension over alleged violations of related restrictions. Taking into account the time spent in pretrial detention, the activist will have to serve 18 months and 13 days. The sentence delivered by judge Alena Kaptsevich cannot be appealed.

Belarusian HRC Viasna considers Dzmitry Paliyenka a political prisoner. In a letter to his friend, the activist said he had to wear a yellow ‘extremist’ tag in prison. 

Amnesty International believes that all charges against Dzmitry Paliyenka stem from the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The organisation believes that Dzmitry Paliyenka has been targeted by the authorities because of his peaceful activism and, as such, that he is a prisoner of conscience. Amnesty International urges the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.

belsat.eu, following spring96.org

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