Belarusian human rights activists have issued a statement connected with several recent court sentences in criminal cases for violence against police officers, resistance with violence, and hooliganism (Article 363, 364, 366, 339) Criminal Code), reports the HRC Viasna.
“The state should protect peaceful assemblies of citizens, and the police should not take actions to forcibly stop them, even if they occur in violation of the procedures of their organization and conduct. Violent termination of assemblies and the use of physical force, as well as non-lethals and weapons, should be used against protesters only as an extreme measure, when the behavior of the assembly is violent, posing a real threat to national and public security, life, and health of citizens,” reads the statement.
Human rights activists are convinced that the disproportionately harsh actions of the police, aimed at curbing peaceful assemblies, can’t be regarded as a legitimate activity for the protection and preservation of public order. The violence on the part of the protesters is justified, as the Interior Ministry representatives provoked it. This is the reason to consider these actions based on the severity of the harm caused and the intent to cause such harm, as well as protection from clearly unlawful actions of law enforcement officers, who also acted under an unlawful order.
On this basis, and guided by the Guidelines on the Definition of a Political Prisoner, human rights activists have recognized the following prisoners sentenced to imprisonment as political prisoners:
Ihar Bukas – sentenced to four years in prison under Article 364 of the Criminal Code;
Aleh Bukas – sentenced to two years in prison under Article 364 of the Criminal Code;
Ivan Tsaholka – convicted to three years in prison under Part 1 of Art. 342 of the Criminal Code, Art. 364 of the Criminal Code.
“We consider it necessary to demand for these political prisoners an immediate review of the measures taken against them and the court decisions in the execution of the right to a fair trial and the elimination of these factors, as well as their release from detention using other measures to ensure their appearance in court,” reads the statement.
As of April 21, 358 people have been recognized political prisoners in Belarus.