His case can remain in the history of Belarus as an example of massacre.
The mother of convicted teenager Aziz Togayev confirms that her son is being subjected to pressure in the correctional colony #2, including on the basis of national and religious background, writes the human rights website mspring.online. To prevent him from being a subject to amnesty, three disciplinary penalties have already been imposed on him.
Aziz Togayev is one of the youngest prisoners serving term under Article 328 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (“Drug trafficking”). At the time of detention the guy was only 15 years old, he was in the ninth grade of high school. His case can remain in the history of Belarus as an example of merciless reprisals against unwanted minors.
The Togayev family come from Uzbekistan, but has been living in Minsk for a long time. Aziz himself is a citizen of Belarus. However, the physical appearance of the guy has obvious features of a native of Central Asia, which, according to his mother, caused a biased attitude towards him by the management of Babruisk penal colony #2. In addition, Aziz was raised in a fairly religious Islamic family, which was the reason for the very first conflict happened in the colony.
HOW TO BECOME A CRIMINAL
It all started a little over a year ago, when the police found that one of the friends of a 15-year-old student offered him to make stashes of synthetic drugs. Aziz Togayev himself testified that this offer was rejected. Then the basis for the prosecution was the correspondence in the guy's smartphone messenger - it was made public in court.
It turned out that, in violation of the law, a search was made in the apartment where he lived with his parents, and the first interrogation was conducted without the presence of his legal representatives and even without a lawyer. In the house, no traces of drugs were found.
Nevertheless, Aziz and his friend were sentenced to 8 years in prison. They were found guilty under Part 3 of Article 328 (distribution of drugs by a group of persons). In August last year, he was transferred to Babruisk, to the country's only correctional colony for minors # 2.
PRESSURE ON RELIGIOUS GROUNDS
Upon arrival at the colony, the guy’s problems started right in the quarantine. According to the boy's mother Shakhlo (she has different surnames with her son - Edit/), he was beaten by operational officers. They damaged the boy's knee. The mother learned about this on a meeting, after which she wrote a complaint to the Department of Corrections.
The pressure began because of the Koran, which the guy had with him. Being a Muslim by religion, the youngster took the book, handed to him by his parents, “to be strong in spirit”. At that time, Vital Kotau was the senior authorized officer of the operational group of the juvenile colony. It was he who, in the presence of an educator, demanded that the Koran should be handed over to the library as an “inappropriate” book. In addition, given the appearance of the guy, he threatened that in case of refusal, the convict could be classified as prone to radical actions as “non-Russian” and “Islamist”.
To make it clear with whom this brave employee of the Department of Corrections had such a “manly conversation”, with the consent of the boy's mother, we publish his passport photo. At that time the young man was still 15 years old:
The boy did not give away the Koran. Moreover, this incident had an unexpected continuation - the staff of the penal colony #2 imposed the first penalty on the teenager. According to their version, he deliberately injured his knee himself, so as not to go running and for a work.
It should be noted here that the duties of the head of the colony at that time, until September last year, were performed by Henadz Kuralenka, who later quit.
The new boss was Siarhei Masliukou, who had no experience working with children. He gave 18 years of life to Shklou penal colony #17, and from December 2016 until his transfer to Babruisk he worked as head of Shklou's penal institution of an open type # 49). With his arrival, Vital Kotau was promoted to the post of deputy head of the colony #2.
BABRUISK PENAL COLONY #2 FEARS ANY PUBLICITY
In November last year, the mother of Aziz Togayev first appealed for help to human rights defenders. She complained that after being beaten in the colony, her son was not provided with medical assistance. The new head of the colony Siarhei Masliukou seemed very unhappy with the complaints of the Togayevs family. During the inspection organized by the Department of Corrections, he personally attended the interrogation of Aziz and, according to the boy’s mother, sitting next to him at the table, Masliukou pressed his foot on the guy's foot so that he would say the right things dictated to him in advance.
After the check by the Department of Corrections, Vital Kotau took the guy to a separate room, and, according to his parents, began to use force on him. By the way, Vital Kotau’s wife, the daughter of the former head of the penal colony’s correctional department, works there as a psychologist. He could send Aziz to her for a conversation, but decided differently.
The outcome of the check was the response of the Department of Corrections, in which parents were informed that there was no torture in the colony #2. However, Aziz Togayev was still sent to the Babruisk hospital for examination.
From this point on, each visit to the colony by the boy’s mother is accompanied by an urgent demand to withdraw messages from the Internet about the orders prevailing in Babruisk penal colony #2, otherwise, as employees promise, “it will only get worse”.
Aziz Togayev arrived at Babruisk penal colony #2 in August last year, on October 11 he turned 16 years old, and after a couple of months he received the second penalty.
In winter, he was seen wearing winter shoes, which some released convict had left him. The staff of the colony accused Togayev that, contrary to the regime rules, he exchanged shoes for cigarettes. For the second penalty, the guy was deprived of short visits, and thus the administration of the institution, in the title of which contains the word “correctional”, saved itself from the attention of the mother.
The following fact can testify about the “educational process”, as the leadership of the colony #2 understands it. Near the entrance to the canteen of the colony a painted caricature was hung out, on which Aziz Togayev was recognized, allegedly exchanging shoes for cigarettes. This picture hung there for three months, and all the convicts asked him questions regarding the violation of the regime. These claims were made to the youngest prisoner by the guys, some of whom have already reached 21 years of age. Why they staged such a moral terror for a teenager - we can only guess.
Shakhlo was able to see her son only on May 10 during a long-term visit. According to her, at that time nothing foreshadowed trouble, and parents, united in the “Mothers Movement 328”, were waiting with hope for the news about a possible amnesty. There were also no problems on 24 June during a short visit.
However, when the rumors of the upcoming amnesty began to take real shape, Aziz Togayev suddenly got the third penalty. And it turned out that for some unknown reason he was included in the category of convicts with suicidal tendencies - perhaps this is a consequence of the “educational process”. The third penalty was imposed for torn pants.
According to the colony controllers, Aziz Togyaev deliberately tore his pant leg due to the fact that it became hot. Aziz himself in a telephone conversation told his mother that “suicidal” convicts are supposed to come for a line-up every hour. The guy was working in the industrial zone, and being afraid to be late for the line-up, he ran and dragged his pants against something sharp.
Now Aziz Togayev fell into the category of malicious violators. His mother became aware on July 3 that a long-term visit at the end of the month would not take place because of this. The guy is deprived of such right. Also, three penalties during the year deprive him of the right to amnesty. The administration of penal colony #2, in the meantime, deducted about 26 rubles from the account of the guy in order to compensate for damage to the state property in the form of torn prisoner’s pants.
INSTEAD OF POST SCRIPTUM
Public attention to what is happening in the only Belarusian colony for minors causes panic in its administration. Just three months ago (March 21), an urgent campaign was launched by Amnesty International demanding to respect the rights of minors in Babruisk Correctional Colony #2. At the end of June, it became known that Emil Astrouka, whose case became indicative for the international community, was urgently transferred to the adult penal colony #2 in Babruisk, without his consent.
The transfer of the guy was preceded by the visit of a UNICEF representative in Belarus, during which the state-run mass media replied that the office of the UN Children's Fund wanted to finance some strange projects in the Babruisk children's colony.
In fact, it was a question of restorative justice for minors. It seems that the Department of Corrections does not capture the specifics of working with adolescents, and its employees understand their function only as a punitive one.