7th day of Hrodna musician Ihar Bantser’s ‘dry’ hunger strike starts

Ihar Bantser. Photo: Belsat

Ihar Bantser, a Hrodna-based musician and activist, refused food and water on March 3.

On that day, he stood trial; during the hearing, Ihar was holding posters with the inscriptions ‘Hunger Strike’ and ‘There Is No Justice’. The defendant also waived his right to counsel, saying: “The Constitution will protect me!”

Ihar spent a long time in solitary confinement; recently, he has asked to send for a notary in order to make a will, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s team says on Telegram.

On October 20, Ihar Bantser was detained and taken into custody. The reason was one of the street performances he staged: on the night of September 5, Ihar put off his underwear and danced in front of a police car. A criminal case was opened against him under Article 339 of the Criminal Code (‘hooliganism’). If found guilty, Ihar may be sentenced to up to three years in prison.

After the arrest, the musician was placed in a one-man cell in Hrodna prison. A bit later, he was taken to the Republican Scientific and Practical Centre for Mental Health in Minsk and forced to undergo a psychiatric examination. Upon returning to the prison, he served two weeks in solitary confinement. The Hrodna resident was deprived of any contact with his relatives and friends.

Іhar Bantser and his kids. Photo: social media

Ihar was detained because he did not remain silent about what was happening in the country: he took part in protests and criticised the authorities, his wife Anzhalika believes.

“Ihar Bantser is a well-known figure in Hrodna. He is a very bright and unordinary person. He is not just a performer and musician; he is a Belarusian who protects human rights and engages in public activities,” Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya said.

His wife, two children, and especially the elderly mother are very worried about Ihar. “He is too free, which is not allowed in our country,” the woman said after the court hearing.

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