Minsk detention centre: Women’s cell in which journo Iryna Slaunikava is held stages hunger strike

A number of female prisoners who were placed under arrest in the notorious detention centre on Akrestsin Street in Minsk has launched a hunger strike in protest against the harsh conditions of confinement.

Iryna Slaunikava, a former Belsat TV representative in Belarus, is being kept in the ‘hungerstriking’ cell, Zerkalo.io reports with reference to the women who have already been released after serving their terms there.

According to the information provided, the prison authorities are not handing over parcels with essentials to the women. They were even deprived of toothbrushes and medicines left by former cellmates who had gone at large. The reason was that the prisoners ‘asked the administration for toilet paper in a wrong tone’, said one of Slaunikava’s partners in mischief. The woman also says that eleven persons were being kept in the two-man cell.

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Iryna Slaunikava and her husband Alyaksandr Loyka were detained on the night of October 30 upon their arrival at Minsk Airport. On Saturday afternoon, it became known that they were taken to the detention centre on Akrestsin Street.

On November 1, they were charged under Art. 19.11 of the Code of Administrative Offences over ‘distributing materials listed as ‘extremist’ on Facebook’ and ‘possessing extremist materials on three counts: in years of 2017, 2018 and 2019 for the purpose of their demonstration’ (in fact, what is meant here is the Facebook links to articles). Judge Maksim Trusevich sentenced Iryna Slaunikava and Alyaksandr Loyka to 15 days in jail each.

On November 3, the Belarusian Interior Ministry recognised ‘the citizens united with the help of Belsat Internet resources’ as an extremist formation and banned them from ‘conducting their activity in the Republic of Belarus’.

Belarus authorities declare Belsat ‘extremist formation’