18 January 2018, Thursday, 12:54

Save Yaugen!

I know how cowardly jailors are. They are pure evil in uniform.

I met Yaugen Vaskovich before the campaign 2010 in his hometown Babruisk.

We were strolling around the winter town and talking. We agreed that we couldn’t bare it anymore, that we had given the enemy too much freedom. I was impressed by how certain Yaugen was of our victory, how calm he was. I liked his inspiring smile. And although we didn’t become close friends, we have worked with a couple of projects together.

When I was in the Zhodzina jail I found out that Yaugen had been convicted to 7 years in prison. His last words that he said when this terrifying sentence was announced left a deep trace in my memory: “Life is short, motherland is eternal!” I always recall these words when I think about Yaugen.

What is it like to get 7 years in prison for a 20-year old? What is it like to spend the best years of one’s life behind the bars instead of studying, building a family, taking a decent place in the country?.. In a normal country. Yaugen has never opted to look for a warm spot in this crazy country. He has turned down proposals to sign acknowledging statements several times, even though everyone asks him to sign anything – just to leave this hell. But he says no to everyone: life is short, motherland is eternal!..

And this position is obviously driving the wicked Belarusian regime and the wicked prison administration crazy. So, the administration of the Magiliou prison is ready to act: Yaugen has spent 15 months in the prison, including 8 months in an isolation cell!

I have visited a great number of prisons and reformatories, but never have I seen such unprecedented terror! Does anyone realize what it is like to spend 247 days in isolation just in the recent 15 months? Does anyone realize what isolation in prison means? An isolation cell in a Belarusian prison is a legalized execution mechanism!

For example, to survive the cold in the isolation cell I had to get up 5 times every night and do squats, push-ups, anything to get a bit warmer for a couple of hours, to get some sleep until I start to freeze again. It was a good night if I had to get up only 4 times. Once, after one month of such regime, I felt that 10 more days would kill me. By that time I had only spent about six months of the first two years of my sentence. Meanwhile, Yaugen is locked in the isolation cell, every month he spends 10-20 days there, and he has 4 more terrifying years ahead!

Yaugen refused to disclose details of his torture. Each time he asks not to report that he is not getting independent newspapers, that most of letters never reach him, that he is constantly in isolation. This information will only do harm, Yaugen explains.

It’s a small world, and Belarus is a small country. I’ve heard the other day that the administration of the Magiliou prison threatens Yaugen Vaskovich that his family will get a heart attack and he will be laced in unbearable conditions if information about tortures reaches independent media.

I know the cowardly nature of jailors, the pure evil in uniform. It is only when the person starts to speak openly about what is going on in prisons that they will stop humiliations and threats. Criminals are frightened by publicity, villains never act in the day light.

That is why today I am shouting out loud: Yaugen Vaskovich is tortured in Magiliou prison number 4! And unless we altogether raise our voices this brave guy will simply disappear. Prison’s director Aliaksandar Dzmitrau should know that his crimes will not be left unpunished. Magiliou jailors should see their names in independent media every day and be afraid to show their snouts in the street.

Truth and publicity is our armor. Together we can save Yaugen, this selfless hero for whom life is short and motherland is eternal.

Zmitser Dashkevich for charter97.org