Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights on 19 June 2012 adressed appeals to Mr Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament and to the European External Action Service to undertake actions in order to improve the detention condition of A. Bialiatski, Belarusian human rights activist, the head of the Centre for Human Rights “Wiasna”, Vice President of the International Federation of Human Rights. In November 2011 he was sentenced to 4.5 years of imprisonment in penal colony and confiscation of property for alleged “concealment of income”. He was sentenced on the basis of information obtained from Polish and Lithuanian authorities about the bank accounts to which money for the organisations was transferred. A. Bialiatski is serving his sentence in the penal colony no 2 in Bobruysk, he is working in a clothing factory. In April 2012 A. Bialiatski was officially nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Letters sent by A. Bialiatski to his coworker Valiantin Stefanovich suggest that he is being persecuted by the authorities of the penal colony. During the last 6 months A. Bialiatski received three reprimands. First, in January 2012, for wearing a wrong type of shoes, contrary to the regulations, the second in May 2012 for being in the workplace without a proper badge. Third reprimand received in June 2012, concerned the fact he was allegedly found sleeping in his workplace.
Moreover A. Bialiatski, as a punishment, is now allowed to receive food parcels of 15 kg instead of the previous 30 kg. The human rights activist was also forbidden to get extra 5 kg of fruit in summer. His right for longer meetings was also limited – the meeting with his wife was reduced from 3 days to one. His right to receive money from his family was limited from
500 000 rubles (approx. 50 EUR) to 100 000 (approx. 10 EUR) a month.
These actions indicate that prison authorities try to make A. Bialiatski a “malicious offender” which would deprive him of the opportunity to be released. The Belarusian Parliament is currently working on a new amnesty law. The right may be denied in cases of “group actions that breach the public order” or an “insult of the president”. Amnesty may be denied in cases of prisoners who breach the regulations of the penal colony, or those who did not admit guilt and did not start the rehabilitation process. This means that A. Bialiatski will not have a chance of being released before the end of his sentence.
These actions are unequivocally a political repercussion against A. Bialiatski and a punishment for many years of work promoting human rights and democracy. Belarusian activists demand the authorities to stop ungrounded pressure and release of all political prisoners.
The measures taken by the penal colony authorities should be assessed as in violation of art. 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which Belarus is a party to), the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners from 14 December 1990 and art. 6, 20, 27 and 30 of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (adopted by the First UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held in Geneva in 1955).