February 19 Is the Two-Month Anniversary of the Mass Arrest of Writers, Journalists
February 19, 2011, is the two-month anniversary of the mass arrests which followed demonstrations against the results of the flawed presidential election of December 19, 2010. PEN International calls again for the release from detention of the journalists Dimitri Bondarenko, Aleksandr Fiaduta, and Pavel Severinets, for the release from house arrest of Vladimir Neklyaev and Irina Khalip, and for the lifting of the severe restrictions placed on the movements of Natalia Radzina. We also call for the dismissal of the politically-motivated criminal cases against them. We strongly urge our members to send messages of support to these writers and their families. Details and addresses are included below.
Vladimir Neklyaev is a writer, poet, former president of the Belarus PEN Center, and the Tell the Truth party's candidate in the 2010 presidential elections. He was arrested on December 19, 2010, held for a month in a KGB detention center (in Belarus the security services are still called the KGB), and charged under Article 293 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (Organization of riots). In January 2011 he was moved from the detention center and placed under strict house arrest, where he has two KGB officers living with him. He is not allowed access to the telephone, the Internet, or newspapers. His family is not allowed to see him and he is only permitted visits from his lawyer. Neklyaev was seriously beaten during his arrest and was denied adequate medical treatment in prison, where he suffered four serious episodes relating to his hypertension. He faces 15 years in prison if convicted.
Irina Khalip is a journalist for the Russian Novaya Gazeta and wife of opposition presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov (still in detention). On December 19, 2010, while giving an interview to the Russian radio station Echo Moskvy, she was arrested and severely beaten by the police. She was held in isolation by the KGB for one month and charged with "organizing and participating in mass disorder." Like Neklyaev, she was placed under strict house arrest in January 2011 and has two KGB officers living with her. She is denied access to the Internet, telephone, and newspapers, and is only allowed visits from her mother and her three-year-old son. Shortly after her arrest, the authorities attempted to take her son from the family (he was staying with his grandmother) and place him in state custody. He and his grandmother were forced by the authorities to undergo a series of psychological and invasive medical tests before it was agreed he could stay with her. Khalip faces between 15 and 23 years in prison if convicted.
Natalia Radzina is a journalist for the pro-democracy news web site Charter 97. She was arrested alongside all the staff and volunteers at the web site on December 19, 2010. She was badly beaten after her arrest and there were distressing reports that she suffered bleeding from the ears. She was charged with "organizing and participating in mass disorder," and faces between 15 and 23 years in prison if convicted. Radzina spent one month in a KGB isolation unit and was then released. She was forced by the authorities to relocate from Minsk to the town of Kobrin and her passport has been confiscated. She is not allowed to leave the town, must report to the local police daily, and is barred from speaking about the case against her. Her lawyer has been forced to sign a gag order.
Pavel Severinets is an opposition activist, author of several books, and a member of Belarus PEN, which recently awarded him their book of the year prize. He was arrested on December 19, 2010, and is still in KGB detention. He is charged under Article 293 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (Organization of riots). Very little information is known about his current condition. If convicted, he faces 15 years in prison.
Aleksandr Fiaduta is an author, literary critic, and member of Belarus PEN. A former member of Lukashenko's administration, he resigned in 1994 and published a critical biography, banned in Belarus, of the president. He is a member of Neklyaev's Tell the Truth party. He was arrested on December 19, 2010, and was charged under Article 293 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (Organization of riots). He is still detained. He suffers from diabetes and it is unclear what level of care he is receiving, if any. He faces 15 years in prison if convicted.
Dimitri Bondarenko is a journalist at Charter 97. He was arrested on December 19, 2010, and is still being held by the KGB. He was charged under Article 293 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (Organization of riots), and faces 15 years in prison if convicted. According to information received by PEN, he has not seen his lawyer since December 29, 2010.
Write A Letter
- Calling for the lifting of the severe restrictions placed on the activities of Vladimir Neklyaev, Natalia Radina, and Irina Khalip;
- Condemning the arrest and ill-treatment of human rights activists and journalists following the post-election protests;
- Calling for an end to the persecution of press and media outlets by the Belarusian authorities;
- Urging that all journalists and human rights activists be freed immediately and for the dismissal of politically-motivated criminal cases.
Send Your Letter To
President of the Republic of Belarus
Alyaksandr G. Lukashenko
Karl Marx Str. 38
220016 g. Minsk
Fax: + 375 172 26 06 10 or
+375 172 22 38 72
Email: [email protected]
Via web site:
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Belarus in your country if possible.
PLEASE ALSO SEND MESSAGES OF SUPPORT
Some of these writers and journalists are not receiving mail, but messages of support for all six of them and their families can be sent to our sister PEN Center in Belarus:
Post box 218, 220050,
(messages will be passed on to the families)
Messages to the following detainees can be sent to the same prison address at:
Post box 8, 220050,
Севярынец Павел Канстанцінавіч
Фядута Аляксандр Іосіфавіч
Бандарэнка Дзмітры Яўгеньевіч