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Abuses Continue In Belarus


Ales Bialiatski (file)

The regime of President Aleksandr Lunkashenko continues to crack down hard on the political opposition and human rights activists in Belarus.

The regime of President Aleksandr Lunkashenko continues to crack down hard on the political opposition and human rights activists in Belarus.

In particular, the United States is concerned over the imprisonment and harsh treatment of Ales Bialiatski, the head of Viasna, the Belarusian human rights center. Mr. Bialiatiski was arrested on politically motivated charges of tax evasion in August 2011. In November 2011, he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison and all his assets were confiscated.

On September 25th, his 50th birthday, the State Department awarded Mr. Bialatiski its 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award in a ceremony in Warsaw, Poland, attended by his wife. On that very day, Belarusian officials placed Mr. Bialiatski in solitary confinement. Mr. Bialiatski’s colleagues and others have expressed concern that he is frequently subjected to psychological pressure and unfair punishment.

Other political prisoners in Belarus are also being abused. Platform, a Belarusian human rights group that provides legal assistance to prisoners, filed a complaint in September to the United Nations special rapporteur on torture alleging that Zmitser Dashkevich has been severely mistreated in the penal colony where he is being held.

Mr. Dashkevich is an opposition activist and a leader of the youth opposition movement Young Front. He was convicted in March 2011 in connection with participation in peaceful protests following the December 2010 presidential elections.

In August 2012, a court added an additional year to Mr. Dashkevich’s two-year sentence for allegedly “repeatedly disobeying orders” of the administration of the penal colony. In June, Mr. Bialitski was labeled a so-called “repeated violator” of the conditions of his detention by the prison authorities, which made him ineligible for amnesty under Belarusian law.

The United States renews its call on the government of Belarus to honor its Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe commitments, release all political prisoners unconditionally and without delay, and ensure the restoration of their rights and reputations.
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