The editorial office of “Svaboda” has received information from Belarusian prisoners about practice of tortures against them.
As noted in one of the letters, “the facts in the statement of the presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich concerning tortures applied to them in the KGB pre-trial detention centre, take place in other pre-trial detention centres and prisons of Belarus and are wide-spread.”
The authors of letters to Radio Svaboda stress that tortures in the places of detention have an impact on health of persons under investigation and convicts considerably, which contradicts Articles 5 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to which “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Such actions of prison administration also contradict the Declaration on Health Protection in Prisons adopted in 2003 by responsible representatives of penal systems and public health systems of European countries, including Belarus.
The editorial office has exact names and surnames of prisoners, however has decided not to make them public, knowing about the harsh penal measures which could be used against them.
“Sleep deprivation is number one”
We offer testimony of a prisoner Ihar M. About tortures in Zhodzina prison #8. People whose guilt is not established, are redirected to this institution from the pre-trial detention centre in Valadarski Street pending sentence. Before being sentenced, Ihar, as said by him, underwent all kinds of tortures and abuse.
“First of all, it is sleep deprivation. In an airless overcrowded cell a mentally tired, exhausted person is forbidden to lie in bed from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. For prisoners to forget about sleep in daytime, they are taken to the corridor and made to stretch out.
The suspects are told to stand two metres away from the wall, then they are ordered to fall with their hands to the wall. Their legs are beaten from behind, making them to stretch wider. The load is placed on arms and spinal column. In a few minutes after staying in this position people start to fall on the ground. Only then they are taken back to the cell. As a result, healthy people have pain in all joints for at least for a week, and those who have problems with vertebra, have pain for a much longer period. So, people cannot lie in bed and fall asleep sitting behind the table.
Seeing that somebody is asleep, prison guards switch off the light, so that other prisoners would not be able to boil water or tea by an electric water heater. Thus, there is an attempt to pit people in cells against each other.”
“Punishment cell: basic hygienic items allowed only few minutes in morning and before sleep”
“A person under investigation could be sent to a punishment cell,” Ihar continues. “For instance, for not shouting “Good morning!” as loud as others during the check of the cell by commanding officers. Prisoners, who are suffering because of sleep deprivation, must line up during checks, inhale air and greet the administration in unison shouting loud.
When a person is taken to a punishment cell, all one’s things are taken away, including personal hygiene items; one is dressed in uniform where it is written “punishment cell”. A towel, a tooth brush, a tooth paste, toilet paper are in the morning and before the bedtime for a few minutes.
In the punishment cell a prisoner must meet prison staff entering the cell, standing with their legs stretched out. And besides the prisoners are undressed several times a day under a pretext of personal search and search for forbidden things. The prisoner must sleep in the punishment cell with his face turned to the doors, for the lamp light to be on their faces. All night long iron corridor doors are clattering while prisoners are led through them to a prison transport. This noise does not give a chance to fall asleep. And when one has dropped asleep on the prison floor at daytime, one is punished by additional stretch outs and a day of a punishment cell.”