Paris-Minsk, August 31, 2012.
FIDH and its member organisation in Belarus Human Rights Center “Viasna” condemn the one year prison sentence imposed on August 28 on Zmitser Dashkevich, leader of the civil and political organization Young Front, for “repeated failure to obey prison authorities”.
Zmitser Dashkevich was initially sentenced on March 24, 2011 to 2 years imprisonment on charges of “malicious hooliganism” allegedly committed ahead of the latest presidential election of December 2010. Since his arrest and detention, he was transferred six times to various detention facilities and penal colonies. Over the last months, he has been purging his sentence in high-security colony No.13 in Hlybokaye (Vitsebsk region). He was expected to be released on December 18, 2012. With this new sentence, Mr. Dashkevich is likely remain imprisoned until August 28, 2013. During his imprisonment, Mr. Dashkevich has been repeatedly subjected to physical and psychological pressure in the penal facilities where he was held. He has also been repeatedly placed in a punishment cell for long periods and threatened with death. His right to meet his family has been arbitrarily restricted. “Adding new sentences to the previous and not yet completed ones might constitute a further step in the repressive arsenal in Belarus”, stated Ms. Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. “The harassment inflicted upon him is politically motivated and contravenes Belarus’ human rights obligations, in particular the prohibition of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment”. “We are seriously concerned about Mr. Dashkevich’s health and the conditions of his detention, added Valentin Stefanovic, Vice-President of “Viasna”. FIDH and Viasna urge the Belarusian authorities to put an end to any kind of harassment against Mr. Dashkevich and to immediately and unconditionally release him, as well as all political prisoners in Belarus.