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“European Belarus”: Stop “hockey” crackdown

“European Belarus”: Stop “hockey” crackdown

All activists detained ahead of the World championship should be released immediately.

Prestigious international events in dictatorial countries significantly worsen human rights situation. It has been stated by a coordinator of “European Belarus” civil campaign Alyaksandr Atroshchankau at the OSCE press-conference in Warsaw.

“The practice shows that elite international events held in dictatorships significantly worsen human right situation in these countries. It happened in Azerbaijan when Eurovision was held there, in Sochi during winter Olympic Games. We observe the same today during the Ice Hockey World Championship in Belarus. Quite evidently, mass violations of human rights are to take place during preparation to the world football championship in 2018 which is planned to be held in Russia. Our campaign believes that a contact group for prevention of forcible abductions, arbitrary detentions and tortures during such events should be created in the framework of the OSCE mechanisms,” Alyaksandr Atroshchankau said in his speech.

Besides, Atroshchankau told about arbitrary detentions of political and public activists, sports fans, about forcible labour and mass sending to labour camps of those who are considered “antisocial elements” by the regime.

At the conference a statement of the civil campaign “European Belarus” was disseminated. It contains a demand to stop the crackdown immediately, to release all political prisoners and restore rights of other citizens, violated during this competition.

We offer the full text of the statement:

Prison games

Mass violations of human rights in Belarus in connection with the Ice Hockey World Championship

Despite numerous statements and assurances that sport remains out of politics, the Ice Hockey World Championship has caused mass repressions against political and civil activists and different social groups of the Belarusian society.

Activists of different political parties and public associations are subjected to arbitrary detentions and administrative arrests for different terms on “petty hooliganism” trumped-up charges.

The following persons have been arrested for different terms:

Zmitser Dashkevich – detained on 24.04.2014 – 25 days of arrest;

Alyaksandr Frantskevich – detained on 25.04.2014 – 25 days of arrest;

Yury Rubtsou – detained on 26.04.2014 - 25 days of arrest;

Leanid Smouzh - detained on 26.04.2014 - 20 days of arrest;

Dzyanis Karnou - detained on 26.04.2014 - 20 days of arrest;

Alyaksandr Kurbatski - detained on 26.04.2014 - 20 days of arrest;

Alyaksandr Stukin - detained on 26.04.2014 - 20 days of arrest;

Valery Tamilin - detained on 26.04.2014 - 20 days of arrest;

Uladzimir Novikau - detained on 26.04.2014 - 15 days of arrest;

Andrei Tsyaniuta - detained on 05.05.2014 - 10 days of arrest - Homel;

Mikalai Dzemidzenka – detained on 05.05.2014 - 20 days of arrest;

Mikhail Mussky - detained on 05.05.2014 - 20+1 days of arrest;

Illya Valavik - detained on 06.05.2014 - 10 days of arrest;

Syarhei Paznyak - detained on 06.05.2014 - 10 days of arrest;

Kiryl Yermalovich - detained on 06.05.2014 - 10 days of arrest;

Alyaksandr Palyakou - detained on 06.05.2014 - 10 days of arrest;

Leanid Kulakou - detained on 07.05.2014 - 10 days of arrest;

Anastasiya Kukhta - detained on 07.05.2014 - 17 days of arrest;

Alyaksandr Arlou - detained on 07.05.2014 - 20 days of arrest;

Stanislau Rachkel - detained on 08.05.2014 - 10 days of arrest;

Uladzislau Zapasau - detained on 08. 05. 2014 - 10 days of arrest;

Andrei Tkachou - detained on 07.05.2014 - 15 days of arrest;

Vyachaslau Zavineuski - detained on 08.05.2014 – 10 days of arrest;

Syarhei Makojts - detained on 07.05.2014 - 20 days of arrest;

Dzmitry Palienka - detained on 08.05.2014 - 10 days of arrest;

Zmitser Yushkevich - detained on 08.05. 2014 - 20 days of arrest;

Syarhei Kazakou - detained on 08.05.2014 – 20 days of arrest;

Danila Hancharou

(the list is being updated on an on-going basis)

The active manhunt against activists of different movements and parties is going on. Minsk police is making a search for Maryna Khomich, Anton Zhylko, Artur Finkevich, Syarhei Byaspalau, Dzmitry Kavalhin, Yahor Vinyatski and many others.

The wave of arrests has not touched upon politically active people alone, but representatives of other groups. Thus, on May 6 four fans of Partisan football club were detained and sentenced to administrative arrest on “petty hooliganism” charges. Fans of this club are known for their anti-Fascist views. The four – Illya Palavik, Syarhei Paznyak, Kiryl Yermalovich and Kiryl Klykau – have been sentenced to 10 days’ arrest by judge Yury Harbatouski. Members of the fan-club of BATE including its leader Alyaksandr Marozau were arrested as well.

Besides, it should be noted that crackdown is also aimed against those groups of population which are not politically or socially active, they do not have connections with mass media and human rights organisations. Considering this fact, one could suppose that the real number of people touched on by the “mopping-up operation” related with the Ice Hockey World Championship, could be dozens times as high as reported.

Moreover, political prisoners Mikola Statkevich, Ales Bialiatski, Eduard Lobau, Mikhail Dzyadok, Ihar Alinevich, Artsyom Prakapenka, Yauhen Vaskovich and Vasily Parfyankou remain behind the bars. They constantly experience serious pressure.

Besides, other basic political, civil, social and economic rights are violated. Compulsory labour is widely used. Thus, students of several universities were forced to work at construction of Chyzhouka-Arena in Minsk.

Moreover, Minsk city executive committee has officially stated that in the framework of preparation to the championship Minsk is to be cleared of the so-called “anti-social elements”, that is, homeless alcoholics, prostitutes. Recent reports show the methods of such “purges”. It should be noted that a practice of placing people suffering from alcohol or drug abuse to special compulsory labour camps (in fact, concentration camps), is widely spread.

Such a situation has not become a surprise. The Belarusian political opposition, civil society and human rights activists warned about the wave of repressions related to the World Championship. The International Ice Hockey Federation received numerous warnings about grave consequences of the prestigious international events amid the conditions of dictatorships from deputies of the European Parliament, international human rights organisations, well-known sportsmen, workers of culture, but turned a deaf ear to all appeals and offered the merciless dictator a present, the Ice Hockey World Championship.

We condemn the unlawful cruelty of the Belarusian authorities.

We demand to stop the repressions immediately, to release political prisoners and political prisoners and restore rights of other citizens, violated in connection with this sports competition.

We remind that the International Hockey Federation and its president René Fasel are directly responsible for the surge of “hockey repressions” in Belarus and demand to take urgent measures to free the innocent, who suffer from this shameful decision.

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