“We are thankful to all people of Belarus who have struggled for our release,” the joint statement to the Belarusian nation of former political prisoners Alyaksandr Kazulin, Syarhei Parsyukevich and Andrei Kim says.
A few days have passed since we were released from torture chambers of the Belarusian regime. It has become possible only due to human solidarity. We are thankful to all people in Belarus and in the world who have struggled for our release. We are thankful to participants of Days of Belarusian Solidarity, to those who took to streets every 16th day of a month carrying our portraits, to those who picketed Belarusian embassies in Vilnius, Moscow, Kyiv, Warsaw, Riga, Brussels, Washington, Paris and other cities, demanding freedom to political prisoners. To those who met militia truncheons and Belarusian jail for the sake of our release, to those who prayed for us and helped our families in the hard times. We pay obeisance to Belarusian and foreign journalists, human rights activists, diplomats and figures of culture, all people of goodwill, friends of Belarus.
We are glad to be at large, but our real release hasn’t come yet. We take our release as justice, but we have never confessed guilt and think we were unlawfully convicted on politically motivated grounds.
We demand the Belarusian authorities to admit this fact and rehabilitate us. The authorities use our release as a sign of “democratisation”. It is important that serious deep reforms, not just veneering of totalitarian regime, begin. It is important that a period be put to the very institution of political prisoners.
It is early to speak now there are no political prisoners in Belarus. 10 our comrades – Alyaksei Bondar, Artsyom Dubski, Mikhal Kryvau, Mikhal Pashkevich, Alyaksandr Straltsou, Alyaksandr Charnyshou, Tatsyana Tishkevich, Mikhal Subach, Paval Vinahradau, Maksim Dashuk – participants of winter protest actions of entrepreneurs, sentenced to different terms of restraint of liberty. They can be at home and at work without a special permission of militia. They are forbidden to go abroad and they can leave the city only if it is permitted by local authorities, after 7 pm they must be situated at the place of their registration. They can be thrown behind the bars for a small violation of this regime. We think these people are considered to be political prisoners, too.
The Belarusian authorities state the election campaign is fair and open, al candidates are on an equal footing. How can they say it if we and other opposition leaders – Mikhail Marynich, Mikola Statkevich, Paval Sevyarynets, Artur Finkevich, Zmitser Dashkevich, Mikola Autukhovich, Andrei Klimau and many other Belarusian Prisoners of Conscience are deforced of their rights and can’t run in the election.
Without full restoration of rights of political prisoners, we can’t say one of 12 offers of the European Union on Belarus’s democratisation has been fulfilled.
Article 193-1 of the Criminal Code of Belarus, providing criminal responsibility for “activity on behalf of unregistered organisation”, is active in Belarus. Belarusian and international human rights activists demand to cancel this article. In spite of protests of the Council of Europe, the new Law on Media, which eliminates freedom of speech, has been adopted.
Today, we, former political prisoners, join our hands and demonstrate our unity and intention to struggle for Freedom of Belarus until democracy wins in the country. We strongly believe that release of some political prisoners today is not a guarantee that the others won’t be thrown to prison tomorrow. We need to seek for institutional changes in the Belarusian legislation, real separation of judicial and executive powers, full rehabilitation of political prisoners and prevention of this practice in the future.
We will try to improve the situation with human rights in general. We think the democratic changes can begin in the nearest time.
Belarus is waiting for changes!
Long live Belarus!