18 April 2021, Sunday, 5:05
Sim Sim, Charter 97!
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It’s All About Him

6
It’s All About Him
Andrei Sannikov

I would like to see the fight for Navalny's freedom include the impeachment of Lukashenka.

I am grateful that at least in this way, through his fate, the public begins to discuss issues that matter to us, the Belarusians. I have already expressed my opinion regarding Navalny as a politician. I am not going to repeat it. It is now, as they say, irrelevant.

I have repeatedly stated that anyone behind bars because of activities against the dictatorship is a political prisoner. I will insist on such formal recognition. I don't care what international and human rights defenders think about it.

I have noticed that human rights defenders have become a separate category that seems to have no relation to what happens in different human rights flashpoints. We, they say, dispassionately document violations. We have international criteria used to rank prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. As if it's a promotion and a cash prize, not torture in prison.

I imagine the Moscow Helsinki Group, being guided by "international criteria", depriving General Pyotr Grigorenko of the status of a prisoner of conscience because he belongs to the military class, which, by definition, relates to violence.

Is it absurd? Alas, it is not. It is what we are heading to under the leadership of Amnesty International.

Several years ago, I broke all ties with them because of their despicable position regarding the status of political prisoners. It's noteworthy that it refers to the headquarters of Amnesty in London and its staff, which determines the policy of the organization. It has nothing to do with Amnesty's local offices in various countries. I was impressed by them and their activities.

Why did I stop communications? I faced a lack of understanding of the importance of supporting the freedom fighters who have been imprisoned and a Soviet approach to these issues.

In 2009, I discussed the case of Mikalai Autukhovich with the clerks from Amnesty and realized how bureaucratic and politicized the organization had become. It turned from a human rights organization into a platform protecting the interests of bureaucrats and lobbyists. One could tell them to go to hell and ignore them. However, they are the ones who can recognize a prisoner as a "political".

We managed to achieve the recognition of Mikalai Autukhovich as a political prisoner only after the trial. It became clear that the case against him had been fabricated. The struggle for Mikalai was a challenge as all our human rights defenders did not dare to even say a word against Amnesty and fully complied with their instructions.

Mikalai is in prison again on trumped-up severe articles. There is no chance to recognize him as a prisoner of conscience. It's the decision of Amnesty International.

Ihar Alinevich has no such chances either.

They do not rush to recognize the mother of two children, Palina Sharenda-Panasyuk, as a political prisoner. No, she has not yet been accused of terrorism. However, the authorities threw information that she had hurt a policeman. If it is true, then it's just a song: it turns out the human rights defenders take the side of the chastener who raised a hand to the woman because she dared to defend herself.

Let us get back to Navalny. I managed to get one thing from Amnesty. It argued for a long time but agreed. I asked them not to publicly report that they decided not to recognize a person as a political prisoner after the case consideration. This rule still applies to Belarus and I hope it will not be cancelled.

Sometimes announcing the non-recognition of a prisoner as a political one can be a verdict for a person in prison. It is the command for the chasteners to attack.

I hope that this cowardly decision by Amnesty will not harm Navalny in the way it did to lesser-known political prisoners.

For my part, I promise to call Alexey Navalny a political prisoner everywhere and demand his release.

I would like our real friends in Russia, especially those who have political weight and international connections, to learn the names of freedom fighters in Belarus, both those who have no chance to be recognized as political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience, and seek their release.

It would be great if the fight for Navalny's freedom could also include the return of Crimea to Ukraine, Russia's withdrawal from Donbas, and Lukashenka's removal from power.

In general, as always:

For your and our freedom!

Andrei Sannikov, Facebook