From colony to prison: Political prisoner Natallia Hersche facing tougher confinement conditions

Political prisoner Natallia Hersche will be transferred from the Homiel-based women’s penal colony to a prison, where the conditions of confinement are highly likely to be harsher.

Natallia Hersche in Savetski district court of Minsk. Photo: АD / Belsat

Natallia’s brother Henadz Kasyan told Radio Svaboda about the outcome of the circuit session of Chyhunachny district court of Homiel. On September 24, judge Mikalai Krupadzyorau ruled to transfer Natallia Hersche to a prison. It is the administration of the colony that will decide which jail the political prisoner will be put into.

Kasyan is not aware of what might have been behind such decision. Using prison authorities’ terms, the reason could be ‘systematic violation of rules of conduct’ or ‘lack of signs of mending her way’, he told Mediazona.

Natallia, who is a citizen of Belarus and Switzerland, has been behind bars for over a year.

Belarus-born Swiss national gets 2.5 years in jail for tearing balaclava off policeman

On December 7, Natallia Hersche was sentenced to two and a half years of imprisonment in a penal colony for removing a balaclava from a riot police officer during a protest rally on September, 19. Natallia had been living in Switzerland for many years, but in 2020 she could not remain indifferent to the events at home and flew to Minsk. At one of the women’s marches, she was detained and sentenced to 15 days in jail. Then a criminal case for resisting a police officer with the use of violence was opened.

When the colony administration made attempts to trample over her rights, Natallia started hunger strikes. In addition, she was repeatedly placed in punitive confinement and a cell-type room for refusing to sew uniform clothes for Belarusian policemen.

Natallia was asked to write a pardon petition to Alyaksandr Lukashenka three times, but she flatly refused again and again, insisting on her being innocent.

Political prisoner Natallia Hersche refuses to ask for pardon insisting she is innocent