Female detainees treated inhumanly: What we know about ‘hungerstriking’ cell in Akrestsin jail

Ten female cellmates, including journalist Iryna Slaunikava, have been hungerstriking in the two-man cell of the infamous detention centre on Akrestsin Street in Minsk since Wednesday evening. They are protesting against the harsh conditions of confinement.

Inscription ‘Fascists’ on prison fence. Photo: Belsat

The former detainees have provided the human rights Viasna with the information about what was happening in cell Nr 15:

  • In mid October, the prison authorities started to exert particularly severe pressure on the detainees.
  • The women were deprived of all the clothes they could use instead of the mattresses which had been taken away.
  • Everything that the women did not manage to take in hands was thrown in the trash. Then toothbrushes, feminine pads, medicines, medical masks, water bottles were grabbed from them as well.
  • On November 3, there were only four toothbrushes, three water bottles, seven pads left in the cell for the ten women.

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

  • Since November 1, no toilet paper has been given to the cellmates. They are not taken to the shower; it is not allowed to turn off the light at night.
  • In September, lice appeared in the cell after three homeless persons had been placed there. Detainees had to beg for soap and toilet paper. In response, prison officers sometimes offered to use the detainees’ T-shirts instead.
  • The deputy director of the detention centre told the women that their complaints did not work, and if they continued to complain, confinement conditions would worsen. He also promised the women that if they did not stop, the temperature in the cell would sink to +7°С.

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  • Currently, it is very hot in the cells, there is not enough air to breathe, and the so called feeder [a window through which food is handed over to prisoners] was opened only within 1-1.5 hours a day; in late October, they stopped opening it at all. And the other way round: the ‘feeder’ was opened at night and jailers refused to close when women said they were cold.
  • Previously, those detainees who were taken from home could bring personal hygiene items, towels and other essentials into the cell.
  • Since recently, the newly-detained come to the women’s cell empty-handed: the prison authorities have been seizing the things they have.

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