Human rights watchdogs: 160 political prisoners in Belarus

The number of political prisoners in Belarus has reached 160: another fifteen persons have been added to the list.

On December 3, Belarusian human rights defenders issued a joint statement on the back of criminal charges brought against Alyaksandr Tsyareshka, Iryna Shchasnaya, Ruslan Parfyonau, Dzianis Zhuk under Art. 293 of the Criminal Code (organising mass riots), as well as against Syarhei Yarashevich, Aleh Korban, Dzmitry Karabeynik, Ryhor Saladounikau, Artsyom Vinakurau, Ivan Andrushoits (he faces an additional charge under Art. 349-2), Alyaksei Sanchuk, Ihar Povarau, Yauhen Yushkevich, Tatsyana Yakelchyk, and Uladzislau Martsinovich under Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (preparing group actions that grossly violate breach public order).

They assessed the persecution of the citizens mentioned above as politically motivated, as it is solely connected with the exercise of their freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, recognised them as political prisoners.

The human rights activists call on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release political prisoners, drop the charges they are facing, and end political repression against the country’s citizens.

The statement was signed by nine organisations – Human Rights Centre Viasna, FORB Initiative, Human Constanta, Belarusian Documentation Centre, Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Legal Initiative, Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House, Centre for Legal Transformation ‘Lawtrend’, PEN Belarus.

Belsat, TUT.BY journos Andreyeva, Chultsova, Barysevich recognised as prisoners of conscience, following