"Vesna" Human Rights Center’s Statement 11:37, 18/03/2003
The Belarusian authorities restrict and violate the right of their citizens for the peaceful assemblies, guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights agreements, ratified by Belarus. The authorities detained and arrested organizers of the social protest People’s March “For Better Life”, held in Minsk on March 12, 2003, which reveals the state’s fear of mass manifestation of social protest.
The People’s March organizers received the longest possible arrest terms. Sovitesky district court judges Relyaeva and Kazadaev ruled to punish with 15 days arrests Ludmila Gryaznova (Charter’97 human rights coordinator), Andrei Sannikov (Charter’97 international coordinator), Dmitry Bondarenko (Charter’97 coordinator) and Leonid Malakhov (co-chair of “Private Property”).
As a result, the prominent Belarusians were placed into harsh conditions of the Okrestina confinement center. Ludmila Gryaznova, as a matter of fact, has an underage daughter without a father. For 15 days the girl will be out of her mother’s reach.
Following the sentencing of March’s organizers the persecution of protesters didn’t stop.
On March 17 the Sovietsky district court of Minsk hosted hearings of the administrative case of BPF Party deputy chair, professor Yuri Khodyko, who had been detained earlier in the morning at the entrance to his house.
By using the techniques of fear the authorities aspire to prevent civil activism ahead of the upcoming actions, scheduled for March 25 – 85th anniversary since the proclamation of BPR and other opposition actions.
In this connection, “Vesna” human rights center states that the Belarusian authorities keep violating fundamental civil and political rights of citizens.
The civil association “Vesna” human rights center declares its support to the incarcerated organizers of the People’s March “For Better Life!” and demands their immediate release.