Human rights defenders: Over 500 political prisoners in Belarus. Five new names on list

The Belarusian human rights community has recognised five more people behind bars as political prisoners.

On June 18, in response to the new cases of conviction and imprisonment on defamatory charges and on charges of insulting the state symbols of Belarus, human rights activists once again reaffirmed their repeated demands to decriminalise defamation and refrain from imprisoning individuals for insulting officials, the state, government agencies and symbols.

According to them, the following persons are imprisoned for insulting the president, government officials (police officers), judges and insulting state symbols:

  • Herman Bykhau – in custody in a pre-trial detention centre on charges under Art. 130 of the Criminal Code (incitement to hatred against another social group, police officers);
  • Syarhei Bobashau – sentenced to two years of restricted freedom in an open correctional facility under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code (insulting a government official); sent to serve the sentence;
  • Alyaksandr Ahraitsovich – sentenced by Zavodski district court of Minsk to two years of restricted freedom in an open correctional facility under Art. 188 of the Criminal Code (defamation); sent to serve the sentence;
  • Dzmitry Babok – sentenced by Babruysk district court to one year in prison under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code (insulting the president);
  • Yury Biruk – sentenced by Maladzechna district court to one and a half years in prison under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code (insulting the president).

Eight Belarusian human rights watchdogs have considered their persecution and imprisonment to be politically motivated, as they are related to the peaceful exercise of freedom expression. The human rights activists call 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 501 political prisoners in Belarus, human rights centre Viasna reports.

She cannot bear humiliation and torture: Elderly cancer patient writes death note awaiting trial for insulting policeman

belsat.eu, following spring96.org

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