More than 630 political prisoners in Belarus. Seven new names on list

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

On August 18, in response to the pre-trial detention, indictment and sentencing under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code (group actions grossly violating public order) and under Part 2 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code (mass riots), the following persons were listed as prisoners of conscience:

  • Artur Khatsko (Article 342-1);
  • Yahor Vyarshynin (Article 342-1);
  • Artsyom Salavey (Article 342-1);
  • Artsyom Karachun (Article 342-1);
  • Dzmitry Shymanski (Article 342-1);
  • Maksim Tsishkevich (Article 342-1);
  • Pavel Lukayanau (Article 293-2)

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Eleven Belarusian human rights watchdogs and NGOs have considered their persecution and imprisonment to be politically motivated, as they are related to their exercise of freedom of peaceful assembly and 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.

“Freedom of peaceful assembly is guaranteed by Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This freedom is not subject to any restrictions other than those established by law and necessary in a democratic society for the purposes of national and public security, public order, public health and morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others <…> The meetings were peaceful and did not pose a threat to national or public security. Despite this, the demonstrators were attacked by special units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs who used disproportionate violence, riot gear and non-lethal weapons,” the statement reads.

As of today, there are 637 political prisoners in Belarus, human rights centre Viasna reports.

Political prisoner Vadzim Hurman put in punitive confinement. He has serious eye condition, following