‘I ask to stand up for good’: Political prisoner Ihar Losik sends letter to Pope Francis

Ihar Losik, an imprisoned blogger and media consultant, has sent a letter to Pope Francis from Homiel prison.

In the letter, he asks the pontiff to ‘call on these horrible people who are indifferent to the fate of other, hundreds of grief-stricken families, to stop,’ Radio Liberty reports. According to Ihar, hundreds and thousands of Belarusians who have faced lawlessness and injustice, sink into despair and see no way out of the situation.

I do not ask to plead someone for me, but I ask to stand up for good, for truth, for justice, for hundreds and thousands of Belarusians who have lost hope after they found themselves in the same situation as I did, and the situations of many of them are even worse. I might be very naive and this letter might not reach you, but I am writing it with all my heart that is pure. I do believe that I am writing it for a reason. And I really want to believe that God has not left us, that this senseless cruelty will stop, that no one else will die, and every [prisoner] will return to their families,” he said.

Ihar Losik is known as an administrator of the popular Telegram channel Belamova which actively covered the events around the 2020 election campaign in Belarus. In late June 2020, his home in the town of Baranavichy was searched; the man was then arrested. He has a wife and a little daughter.

Police censor Ihar Losik’s correspondence from jail

He was charged under Article 342-1 of the Criminal Code (‘organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order’) and Art. 293 (‘preparation for participating in mass riots’).

Pleading not guilty and considering his criminal prosecution to be politically motivated, he went on an indefinite hunger strike ‘until all accusations were dropped or the measure of restraint was changed’. Then Losik said he had already spent half a year in prison on ‘the absurd charge’. He ‘would have had to use a teleporter’ in order to commit that crime, he stressed in his address published on Telegram. Later, however, the detention period for the political prisoner was extended by three months, until March, 25. In late January, the imprisoned blogger decided to end hungerstriking on its 42nd day.

Then another charge was brought against Ihar Losik. When he was informed of the new accusation on March 11, he made an attempt to cut his hands in front of the investigator and the lawyer. He was on a ‘dry’ hunger strike for five days, refusing food and water in protest.

Since June 24, six political prisoners have been tried in the Homiel pre-trial detention centre in a closed format: Syarhei Tsikhanouski, Ihar Losik, Mikalai Statkevich, Uladzimir Tsyhanovich, Artsyom Sokau, and Dzmitry Papou. The defendants in the so called Tsikhanouski case are accused of organising mass riots, actions, flagrantly violating public order, and inciting social hatred in Belarus during the preparation and holding of the presidential elections. Even the relatives of the accused are not allowed to the hearing to ‘ensure the safety of participants of the trial and protect secrets protected by law’. However, the officials do not give any official explanations for such measures.

Behind closed doors: Trial of Statkevich, Tsikhanouski, Losik, other activists starts in Homiel