On November 12, Belarusian authorities attacked one of the country’s oldest youth organizations: security officers arrested leaders and activists of the Belarusian Students’ Union. The activists’ apartments and the organization’s office were searched.
A number of members were named suspects under Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization or active participation in group actions gravely breaching public order) and placed in the KGB pre-trial prison. Some of them were later transferred pre-trial detention center No. 1 in Minsk.
On November 23, it became known that Hleb Fitzner, Illia Trakhtenberg, Maryia Kalenik, Viktoryia Hrankouskaya, Anastasiya Bulybenka, as well as Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics (BSUIR) professor Volha Filatchankava were charged and remanded in custody.
In this regard, we, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, reaffirming our position expressed in the joint statement of November 18, 2020 on the arrest of members of the Belarusian Students’ Union, note that their persecution by the Belarusian authorities is associated with the peaceful exercise of freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights standards in the field of freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly.
In this context, we consider their imprisonment to be arbitrary and politically motivated, and Hleb Fitzner, Illia Trakhtenberg, Maryia Kalenik, Viktoryia Hrankouskaya, Anastasiya Bulybenka and Volha Filatchankava to be political prisoners in accordance with paragraph 3.1 of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners.
In this regard, we, representatives of human rights organizations in Belarus, call to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Hleb Fitzner, Illia Trakhtenberg, Maryia Kalenik, Viktoryia Hrankouskaya, Anastasiya Bulybenka and Volha Filatchankava and drop the criminal charges they are facing;
- Immediately release all political prisoners and put an end to political repression in the country.
Human Rights Center "Viasna"
Belarusian Documentation Center
Belarusian Helsinki Committee
Advisory center on contemporary international practices and their legal implementation “Human Constanta”
Center for Legal Transformation “Lawtrend”
Belarusian Association of Journalists