Eleven human rights activists detained during Thursday’s raid declared political prisoners

The Belarusian human rights community has recognised eleven more people as political prisoners, putting the persons detained in the course of Wednesday’s crackdown on non-state organisations, HRC Viasna reports.

On July 14, Belarusian security forces made an unprecedented attack on the country’s human rights community, NGOs, and political parties. Dozens of raids took place across the country, many people were detained.

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On the back of conducting searches of offices and homes, the police took in custody Uladzimir Labkovich (HRC Viasna’s lawyer), Nina Labkovich (director of the investors’ association Angels Band), Valyantsin Stefanovich (a member of Viasna’s board), Ales Byalyatski (Viasna’s head), Syarhei Sys, Alena Laptsyonak, Andrey Paluda, Yauhenia Babayeva, Viktar Sazonau (Viasna human rights activists), Mikola Sharakh (head of Polatsk branch of the Free Trade Union), Syarhei Matskevich (a representative of the Community Centre).

“It is obvious that the motive of their persecution is their activity in the sphere of rights defense: promotion of international human rights standards and democratic values, actions in defense of the right to life, freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and association, the right to a fair trial and freedom from torture. Therefore, we consider their prosecution and imprisonment to be politically motivated, related to their non-violent activities aimed at protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, and them as political prisoners under paragraph 3.1(b) of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoner,” the statement reads.

Nine human rights watchdogs called on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release all political prisoners, stop the criminal prosecution against them, as well as end political repression against the country’s citizens.

As of today, there are 566 names on the list of political prisoners in Belarus.

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