On November 24, Belarusian human rights watchdogs recognised another 11 persons as political prisoners, HRC Viasna reports.
Belsat TV contributors Katsyaryna Andreyeva (Bakhvalava) and Darya Chultsova are among them. They are charged with ‘organising and preparing actions that grossly violate public order’ (Art. 342-1 of the Criminal Code). The two media workers were detained in mid November immediately after their livestreaming and covering the brutal crackdown on protesters who gathered in the so-called Square of Change, one of the offstreet yards in Charvyakou Street in Minsk. If found guilty, they may face up to three years of imprisonment.
Katsyaryna Andreyeva has been transferred to a prison in the town of Zhodzina; by the moment, it is unknown where Darya Chultsova is being held.
TUT.BY reporter Katsyaryna Barysevich has also been added to the list of Belarusian political prisoners. She was detained on November, 19 after a criminal case over allegedly ‘violating medical privacy which entailed grave consequences’ (Art. 178-3) had been opened. In her article about the tragic death of Minsker Raman Bandarenka, Katsyaryna Barysevich referred to doctor Artsyom Sarokin who gave her medical records which showed that there had been no alcohol in the blood of the victim. Its authenticity was later confirmed by Bandarenka’s mother. Government officials, including Alyaksandr Lukashenka, keep claiming that Raman Bandarenka, who was beaten to death by unknown induvudials on November 11, was in a state of intoxication. Both Barysevich and Sarokin were taken to the notorious KGB prison ‘Amerykanka’ in Minsk; notably, Bandarenka’s murderers have not been found or identified yet.
“The persecution of the journalists by the Belarusian authorities is linked to their exclusively peaceful exercising the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights norms, i.e. freedom of expression, freedom of speech and right to information. We consider the imprisonment as arbitrary and politically motivated and the journalists as political prisoners in accordance with paragraph 3.1 (a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners ” the statement reads.
Human rights organisations call on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release Katsyaryna Andreyeva, Darya Chultsova, Katsyaryna Barysevich and drop all the charges against them.