Statement by the Speaker of the Coordinating Council to international leaders in connection with the condition of Viktor Babariko
To Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
Joe Biden, President of the United States,
Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Dear President von der Leyen,
Dear President Biden,
Dear Prime Minister Sunak,
Coordinational Council as a representative body of democratic forces of Belarus kindly asks you to pay attention to the regular facts of inhuman treatment of political prisoners in Belarusian prisons.
At 27th of April it became known that Viktar Babaryka, political prisoner who as contender participated in pre-election campaign of presidential elections in 2020, leader of political party “Razam”, and one of the leaders of democratic forces in Belarus, was taken into the surgical unit of Novopolotsk Central City Hospital. Viktar was taken into the hospital from the Novopolotsk Correctional Facility №1 with signs of severe beating and pneumothorax. Due to signs of beating doctors who examined his condition were not able to recognize him visually until they saw his ID. Until 27th of April for 2 months Viktar was refused to meet his lawyer on the territory of the correctional facility, and there is only little information about his condition prior to 27th of April.
This is not the first case of violence against political prisoners in Belarusian prisons. Throughout the period of imprisonment from the year 2020 Viktar Babaryka, leaders of Coodinational Council Mariya Kalesnikava and Maksim Znak, as well as many other political prisoners are regularly incarcerated for a long period of time. Being incarcerated means to be present in a very small space, completely alone with the lights constantly on with no and possibility to sit down or lean on, which might be equated to torture.
Few months ago Mariya Kalesnikava was taken from correctional facility to the intensive care unit in a hospital. For a long time she was refused to meet her lawyer and relatives. In a hospital she had a surgery on a stomach, and a few days later was taken back to the correctional facility.
There are many people with severe chronic and oncological diseases among political prisoners in Belarus, as well as many people in age. Nevertheless, they suffer the same horrific treatment and violence for their beliefs and political views. Currently 7 members of the Coordination Council are imprisoned, including 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski.
Today there is more than 1500 political prisoner in Belarus. However, this number is only an estimate: experts and human rights defenders consider that the real number of people who should be in the status of political prisoner is more than 4000. However, the answer of the political prisoners in Belarus – people who are imprisoned for just their political views – on all the ordeals is an unbroken character and faith in the democratic values.
In such a situation we demand urgently to provide an admission of independent doctors to Viktar Babaryka, Mariya Kalesnikava and other political prisoners who are in need for medical care.
We also demand the regime to provide admission of diplomats, representatives of international institutions (including OSCE) to the meeting with political prisoners to get the understanding of their living conditions and their urgent needs.
We urge the regime to obey Belarusian law and provide to political prisoners a right to defense and provide their lawyers an ability to fulfill their duties.
We condemn violence and torture that regularly occur in Belarusian prisons, as well as violations of human rights of political prisoners, their relatives and lawyers. There is no doubt that persecution for political views and beliefs must stop in Belarus. The only way out of the social and political crisis in Belarus is an unconditional release of all political prisoners with the guarantee of rehabilitation for them and their families.
Speaker of the Coordinating Council of Belarus