In the letter, the organizations demand to stop the repression against the Human Rights Center “Viasna” and other human rights defenders in Belarus, condemn the systematic detentions, beatings and torture, repression by the authorities. They emphasize that from July 14 to 16, 2021, not only the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, member organizations of the International Committee for the Investigation of Torture in Belarus, “Human Constanta” and “Legal Initiative”, and other human rights organizations of Belarus were subjected to repression.
The human rights activists reminded that the repressions in Belarus have been continuing since August 2020: “The authorities have detained more than 35,000 Belarusians for participating in peaceful protests and initiated about 3,000 politically motivated criminal cases. During this period, human rights defenders have documented at least 2,500 cases of torture.”
Only from July 14 to 16, more than 60 searches were in the homes and offices of Belarusian human rights defenders. More than 30 people were interrogated after the searches, and 13 of the detainees were jailed for 72 hours on charges of violating public order and tax evasion. Many of them were released but remained on their recognizance. Ales Bialiatski, chairman of “Viasna”, Valentin Stefanovich, Deputy Chairman of “Viasna”, Vladimir Labkovich, lawyer and member of “Viasna”, remain in the pre-trial detention centre. Five human rights defenders: Leonid Sudalenko, Tatyana Lasitsa, Marfa Rabkova, Andrey Chapyuk and Oleg Grablevsky, have been under arrest for several months. The signatories reminded that the Belarusian authorities have been persecuting the “Viasna” for more than two decades. Ales Bialiatski spent 1,052 days behind bars in the period from 2011 to 2014. Together with human rights defenders, the usurper also persecutes independent media: “Nasha Niva”, “Radio Liberty”, “Belsat”, regional media. Now more than 30 media employees and dozens of bloggers are in custody.
“It is important that the searches began in the day after the adoption of a resolution by the UN Human Rights Council. Here, the Council condemned the human rights situation in Belarus, demanded the release of all arbitrarily detained persons, as well as the investigation of all allegations of torture and other human rights violations,” the letter says.
The human rights defenders stressed that they condemn the massive violations of human rights by the Belarusian authorities, express solidarity with the detained human rights defenders subjected to repression and persecution for their work. In the letter, they outlined a demand to the Belarusian authorities: stop the persecution and intimidation of those who criticize the regime and release all unfairly detained human rights defenders, journalists and activists.
“We call on the international community to take an unshakable position in defence of the Belarusian human rights community and publicly demand the release of all illegally detained persons whose only crime is the demand that society is based on justice, not fear,” the message says.