• Actual
  • Law and the media
  • Helpful
  • Work areas and campaigns
  • Reviews and monitoring
  • Immediately release political prisoner Raman Pratasevich!

    Joint statement by Belarusian human rights organizations

    Min­sk – May 24, 2021

    On May 23, blog­ger Raman Prata­se­vich was detained by Belaru­sian secu­ri­ty forces at the Min­sk Nation­al Air­port, fol­low­ing the forced land­ing of a Ryanair pas­sen­ger air­lin­er.

    Accord­ing to avail­able infor­ma­tion, Prata­se­vich is fac­ing charges under Part 1 of Art. 293 of the Crim­i­nal Code (orga­ni­za­tion of mass riots), Part 1 of Art. 342 of the Crim­i­nal Code (orga­ni­za­tion or active par­tic­i­pa­tion in group actions that gross­ly vio­late pub­lic order) and Part 3 of Art. 130 of the Crim­i­nal Code (incite­ment to social dis­cord).

    Based on this, the blog­ger was includ­ed in the nation­al data­base of ter­ror­ists and put on an inter­na­tion­al want­ed list. A request for his extra­di­tion was sent by the Belaru­sian author­i­ties to the Pol­ish gov­ern­ment.

    It is also known that Sofia Sape­ga, a stu­dent of the Euro­pean Human­i­ties Uni­ver­si­ty, was arbi­trar­i­ly detained togeth­er with Raman Prata­se­vich.

    In this regard, we, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Belaru­sian human rights orga­ni­za­tions, note the fol­low­ing:

    Blog­ger Raman Prata­se­vich is being per­se­cut­ed by the Belaru­sian author­i­ties against the back­drop of a pro­found human rights cri­sis, trig­gered by the launch of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion last May and con­tin­u­ing to this day. The cri­sis is accom­pa­nied by unprece­dent­ed polit­i­cal repres­sion against thou­sands of indi­vid­u­als from every social group. All of them are unit­ed by shar­ing dis­sent­ing views on the devel­op­ment of the coun­try, demand­ing fair elec­tions and human rights for all cit­i­zens of Belarus with­out excep­tion.

    Raman Pratasevich’s pub­lic activ­i­ty is noth­ing but the peace­ful exer­cise of the free­doms guar­an­teed by both the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Repub­lic of Belarus and inter­na­tion­al human rights law, the free­dom to seek and dis­sem­i­nate infor­ma­tion and to express one’s opin­ion, among oth­ers.

    Accord­ing to inter­na­tion­al stan­dards of free­dom of expres­sion, no one may be sub­ject­ed to any kind of restric­tion, includ­ing depri­va­tion of their rights or penal­ties due to their own opin­ions or beliefs.

    A per­son may be pun­ished for express­ing their opin­ion, in case it threat­ens nation­al secu­ri­ty, pro­vid­ed that the gov­ern­ment can demon­strate:

    a) that the expres­sion of opin­ion is aimed at calls for vio­lent action;

    b) may lead to such acts of vio­lence;

    c) there is a direct and imme­di­ate link between these state­ments and the like­li­hood or occur­rence of such vio­lent acts.

    As we have repeat­ed­ly not­ed, the spon­ta­neous gath­er­ings that began after the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion of August 8, 2020 were most­ly peace­ful and were not accom­pa­nied by actions that could be described as riots.

    The accu­sa­tion of Raman Prata­se­vich of incit­ing social dis­cord against gov­ern­ment offi­cials, police offi­cers and oth­er offi­cials is, in our opin­ion, noth­ing but per­se­cu­tion for crit­i­ciz­ing the cur­rent gov­ern­ment. Arti­cle 130 of the Crim­i­nal Code is intend­ed pri­mar­i­ly to pro­tect vul­ner­a­ble groups of soci­ety from incit­ing hatred, rather than gov­ern­ment offi­cials from crit­i­cism, how­ev­er harsh it may be. We have repeat­ed­ly clar­i­fied that gov­ern­ment offi­cials are not a sep­a­rate social group.

    In addi­tion, accord­ing to inter­na­tion­al stan­dards on free­dom of expres­sion, it is inad­mis­si­ble to pun­ish for crit­i­cism or insult of a nation, state or its sym­bols, gov­ern­ment, state insti­tu­tions or state and pub­lic fig­ures, unless such crit­i­cism or insults are aimed at incit­ing vio­lence or can trig­ger such actions.

    In this regard, we con­sid­er the per­se­cu­tion of Raman Prata­se­vich to be polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed, as it is relat­ed to the peace­ful exer­cise of his opin­ion, and the detainee is there­fore a polit­i­cal pris­on­er, in accor­dance with para­graph 3.1 (a) of the Guide­lines on the Def­i­n­i­tion of Polit­i­cal Pris­on­ers.

    We call on the Belaru­sian author­i­ties to:

    • imme­di­ate­ly release Raman Prata­se­vich and drop the crim­i­nal charges he is fac­ing;

    • release arbi­trar­i­ly detained Sofia Sape­ga;

    • release all polit­i­cal pris­on­ers and end polit­i­cal repres­sion in the coun­try.

    Human Rights Cen­ter «Vias­na»

    PEN Belarus

    Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists

    Legal Ini­tia­tive

    Cen­ter for Legal Trans­for­ma­tion “Lawtrend”

    Human Con­stan­ta

    FORB Ini­tia­tive

    Belaru­sian Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­ter

    Belaru­sian Helsin­ki Com­mit­tee

    The most important news and materials in our Telegram channel — subscribe!
    Most read
    Every day send to your mailbox: actual offers (grants, vacancies, competitions, scholarships), announcements of events (lectures, performances, presentations, press conferences) and good content.


    * indicates required

    By subscribing to the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy