Human rights defenders: 322 political prisoners in Belarus

Another twenty names have been added to the list being updated by Belarusian human rights defenders since the summer of 2020.

On Monday, seven human rights watchdogs issued a joint statement on pre-trial detention and indictment under Article 342-1 of the Criminal Code (group actions grossly violating public order) of Maksim Yalkanau, Radzion Medusheuski, Ihar Laptanovich, Mikita Dranets (facing additional charge under Art. 285), Pavel Shpetny (additional charge under Art. 285), Danila Chul (additional charge under Art. 285), Alyaksandr Kazlyanka ( additional charge under Art. 285), Andrey Marach (additional charge under Art. 285), Alyaksei Halauko (additional charge under Art. 285) and the indictment under Art. 293-2 (mass riots) of Ivan Soupel, Andrey Khveskavets, Alyaksandr Shandyba, Syarhei Shalamitski, Alyaksandr Shalamitski, Leu Tsyalipka, Yakau Shafarenka, Danila Bandaruk (additional charge under Art. 339-1) and Pavel Mazko, as well as the imprisonment under court rulings of Illya Pirazhkou and Viktar Tauhen.

The Belarusian human rights organisations assess the persecution of the above mentioned persons as politically motivated, as it is related solely to their exercise of freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.

They call on the authorities to immediately release all the political prisoners and stop their criminal prosecution. As of 30 March, 322 Belarusians have been recognised as prisoners of conscience in the country.

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