The two years of nightmare.
Alan Paul Smith was released in the morning on September 29 from the penal colony #3 ‘Vitsba’. He was delivered to the National Aipport Minsk and flew to Warsaw, and then headed for London.
“I would jump into a fire for him. Alan knows I would do anything for his sake. This is what love is supposed to be,” says Magdalena Wolynski, the wife of British citizen Alan Smith. He spent two years in the Belarusian penal colony, and she waited for him, and finally the day of his release has come, Radio Liberty reports.
Pole Magdalena and Kurd Alan met 11 years ago in Gdansk.
“We’ve been together since then, - Magdalena says. - We’ve lived five years in Kurdistan, founded a company there. Then we moved to London and live an ordinary life there. We haven’t seen each other for two years but we did all we could to help one another.”
Magdalena Wolynski moderates a Facebook community “Support for Alan”, which has become a group of support for foreigners imprisoned in Belarus. The two years in Belarus became a nightmare for her family, Magdalena says. She is convinced that the Belarusian authorities had no reason to arrest her husband.
“The entire case was trumped”
“The investigation made over 30 allegations against him, none of which was true. He was accused of being the main organizer of the criminal channel (of migration – Radio Liberty) There were two more people in court, accused in the same case. They saw each other for the first time in the courtroom. This looked like a comedy,” Magdalena says. “An educated person from Britain, who has a Master degree and a PhD, sitting in one cage with two Belarusian Gypsies, who, I think, finished some 6 years of school and had prior convictions.”
Magdalena says that the prosecutor did not ask Alan a single question in several months. They also refused to interrogate a Kurdish family via Skype, because of the actions of which Smith got to prison.
“This is a woman in a wheelchair and her family,” explains Magdalena. “She asked us for help.” Our company Kurdish European Business Center helps people from the Near and Middle East get medical care. We are a consulting company. We also help European and Eastern businessmen to establish contacts. The woman appealed to us, said that she has a visa to Belarus and asked if we could help her get medical care here. We agreed and it turned out to be a nightmare.
I believe that this whole thing was made up,” says Magdalena. “I do not see any reason for Alan's arrest. I was shocked by the verdict. I do not know why they decided to put him in jail.”
In conclusion, Alan informed his wife about other foreigners who were imprisoned in Belarus. “Frenchman Joland Viaud, Alexander Lapshin, Daichi Yoshida - there are so many foreigners whom Belarus imprisoned. Now an Italian guy, who gave lessons in the Italian language, is in prison, - says Magda. - I have launched a Facebook page and I want to set up a charitable organization in London “Support for Foreigners Imprisoned in Belarus”. I will continue to help people. Not only foreigners, but also Belarusians.
So many people in Belarus are in prison for reasons that are hard to imagine. Alan shared the cell with highly qualified teachers, doctors, lawyers. He said that in this prison you will not find real criminals, all ordinary people. All this is very sad.
“There was no water, no windows, no ventilation. He was sitting on the floor all day long”
Magdalena is horrified by the confinement conditions in Belarus.
“When there was a trial in Hlybokaye, Alan was kept indoors without windows, ventilation and water. They took a mattress from the room and he sat on the floor all day. He had no water to wash his hands. When he said that he needed to go to the toilet, they gave him a a bucket. It was horrible,” she says. “For two years we tried to pass him glasses with the help of the embassy, lawyers and just good people. He had a vision of +4.5, and it became +6 during the imprisonment. And he has not received glasses yet.”
Magdalena says that in the penal colony #3, where Smith served his sentence, there were cases of mass poisonings.
“There are a lot of facts of ill treatment with Alan. All this made him go on a hunger strike. It was a very desperate decision,” Magdalena explains. “He was on a hunger strike for 8 days. Not only because he was in bad conditions, but also because others were. His best friend Ruslan was transferred to the punishment cell, simply because he translated for him. He was there a month absolutely for nothing.”
Magdalena says that the colony administration did not allow her to call Alan for six months. The situation changed only after a visit to the colony of employees of the British Embassy.
“This is so awful. We have not seen each other for two years, but at least we could talk on the phone. And then they banned calls and letters. We did not have any contacts, it was so hard,”- says Magdalena.
“Belarusians are the best nation ever”
Belarusians helped them all the way through Alan’s imprisonment in the penal colony #3, Magda says. She doesn’t even know most of those people.
“Every time when some relative was at a meeting in the colony, I was reported news about Alan, they passed him a little food,” she said. “You can see on my Facebook page how many people are happy for us and want to see our photos together. Human rights defender Pavel Levinau helped us the most, he did so much. One lady passed Alan food for two years. She never knew Alan, she hasn’t seen him a single time, but she kept doing this for two years. I cannot reveal her name. She is an angel.”
Magdalena says she is not sure she would find the same help and support in Britain or Poland. “Belarusians are the best nation ever. I am so grateful to everyone who helped us”.
“I asked people on Facebook to send photos with slogans to support Alan, and I sent them over to Alan on his birthday,” Magdalena says how people supported their family all over the world. “He said it was the best moment in his life. He was so happy. So, I started to support other prisoners, too. I get letters from them and I know that even a simple postcard can change a lot and make a person happy. When somepne greets them with birthday or Christmas. There are so many people there who have no wife, no relatives or friends. So I send them postcards.”
45-year-old Alan Smith was arrested in September 2016 in Brest and after 10 months in the remand prison in Vitsebsk he was sentenced to two years of imprisonment.
Alan Smith, originally from Kurdistan, lived in London. Together with his wife, they had a company in Poland, which was engaged in establishing business ties between Kurdish and European businessmen and organized patients in the Middle East in Europe.
Arriving in Belarus, Smith helped a Kurdistan citizen, an invalid who legally, with a visa, arrived in Belarus, to obtain permission to stay in the country. Later it turned out that the woman, together with her family - 6 people altogether- were going to migrate further to the European Union. Alan, who was not related to crossing the border, was charged with organizing illegal migration. In the court, Smith did not recognize guilt, boldly stating the use of torture behind bars.
Magdalena Wolynsky, who was arrested with her husband, was soon released, started an online campaign to support her husband and wrote to Aliaksandr Lukashenka. “The conditions in which my husband is held are monstrous,” she wrote.