Aleh Kliuyko, a judge of the Minsk economic court, has resolved to strike off NGO Platform which is engaged in defending prisoners’ rights. A summon of the Ministry for taxation became a formal cause for the organisation’s shutdown.
Dzmitry Sodel, a representative of the district tax office, said at the hearing that the some of the organization’s letterheads had featured a different address, and that tax inspectors had repeatedly visited the organization at its legal address but found nobody there.
Platform leader Andrey Bandarenka argued that there were no regulations specifying which of its addresses an organization should put on its letterhead.
As for the failure to file tax returns on time, he said that Platform had already been fined for that, promptly paid the fine and could not have caused any damage to any one by that shortcoming because it was a not-for-profit organization.
Pressure on human rights defenders continue
Commenting on the verdict, Andrey Bandarenka stressed that “nothing accidental has happened”. “All of us got accustomed to the way of our courts’ making decisions, especially those concerning political or human rights organisations. But now we are able to provide international structures with some information on the way of pressurizing human rights organisations and observance of public law by personal example. And let permanent representative Mikhail Khvastou or Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey try to explain the UNO or the OSCE what way human rights are observed in Belarus and how human rights defenders can perform their activity,” Head of Platform said.
Platform was founded by Andrey Bandarenka after he had spent almost two years behind the bars being accused of commission of an economic crime. In March, 2011 he was exonerated from blame, in June Platform being established.
Its very first public campaign evoked a wide response: they organised a press conference of a former prisoner of Hlybokaye penal colony who revealed the story of a mass suicide protest attempt in the colony.
On June 21, 2012 the Minsk Prosecutor’s Office warned Bandarenka against “discrediting of the Republic of Belarus” in regard to Platform’s address to the International Ice Hockey Federation calling not to hold the 2014 World Championship in Belarus until “all the political prisoners are released and persecution of human rights defenders, journalists and civil activists stops”.
Andrey Bandarenka reiterated that the organisation would continue its activity even in case of striking off.