18 January 2018, Thursday, 6:25

Human rights activist Martin Uggla deported from Belarus


The head of Sweden-based human rights organisation Östgruppen is now in Vilnius.

Östgruppen's chair Martin Uggla, who was denied entry to Belarus on May 7 and was held in the airport's transit zone, has arrived in Vilnius. He plans to return to Stockholm, Radio Svaboda reports.

“They took me to the plane this morning, wished me a good trip, but didn't say goodbye. I asked if that meant that the year of hospitality had ended in Belarus. The border guard pretended he didn't understand me,” Martin Uggla said.

“I spent the night on a sofa in a room in the transit zone. It is a room for those who were denied entry to Belarus. There were three Iranians. It's not a prison cell, it's a separate room under guard. Three guards were watching me to prevent the possible escape,” Uggla said.

Uggla had two meals in 24 hours – sandwiches, which passengers receive during flights.

“A Belavia officer, who gave me the sandwiches, was surprised to hear that I speak Belarusian,” the human rights defender notes.

According to Martin Uggla, he was not said why he was denied entry to Belarus:

“They just said I was on the list of those prohibited from entering the country. I asked to explain the sense of the phrasing, but they refused. They also refused to show me the document, which would explain the reasons for the ban.”

Uggla says the only sign of his unsuccessful trip to Minsk is a stamp in his passport saying entry to Belarus is denied for him.

The human rights defender admits it will be “unreal” for him to get to Belarus in the near future.

“I want to visit Belarus. Of course, I will try to do it. I won't keep silence. I won't stop criticising [the authorities] for human rights violations,” martin Uggla said.

The human rights activists spent almost 24 hours in the transit zone at Minsk-2 airport. Border guards refused to let him in Belarus, though Martin Uggla has a ticket for a hockey match.

Swedish human rights organisation Östgruppen headed by Martin Uggla is among the initiators of the campaign “Don't Play with the Dictator” against holding the ice hockey world championship in Minsk.

Photo: facebook.com/taciana.reviaka