Number of political prisoners in Belarus reaches 645

Belarusian human rights activists have recognised another nine persons as political prisoners.

On August 23, the human rights community issued a statement regarding Natallya Turava, Yury Serabro, Alyaksandr Ihnatovich, Yury Vinichuk, Alyaksandr Yunitski, Syarhei Burak, Uladzimir Shurubeyka, Syarhei Balakhonau, and Anatol Sivets.

In the summer of 2021, the above mentioned persons were sentenced to imprisonment and restriction of liberty for insulting the president, government officials (police officers), judges and state symbols, as well as the use of other permissible forms of expression.

“In this regard, we consider their persecution and imprisonment to be politically motivated, as they are related to the peaceful exercise of expression. The convicts are therefore political prisoners in accordance with paragraph 3.1 (a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners,” the statement reads.

Nine human rights watchdogs called on the Belarusian authorities to: immediately release political prisoners, end criminal prosecution against them, stop political repression as well as take measures aimed at decriminalizing defamatory offenses and abolishing articles of the Criminal Code that provide for liability for insulting the state, state symbols and officials, namely, Articles 188, 189, 367, 368, 369, 369-1, 370, and 391 of the Criminal Code of the Republic Belarus.

To date, there are 645 names on the list of political prisoners.

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