International human rights organization Amnesty International showed their concern about the detention of 25 opposition activists in Belarus and journalists. "16 of these detainees are prisoners of conscience, facing trumped up charges purely because of the peaceful expression of their political opinions," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
According to experts Amnesty International, prisoners of conscience are former presidential candidate Ryhor Kastusiou, Ales Michalevic, Vladimir Niakliaeu, Andrei Sannikov and Nikolai Statkevich, journalists Natalia Radina (editor of «Charter 97»), Irina Khalip (Russian correspondent of «Novaya Gazeta») Sergei Vozniak (editor in chief of «Tovarisch»). In addition, political scientist Alexander Feduta, Co-BCD Pavel Seviarynets, the UCP leader Anatoli Lebedko, a member of the electoral headquarters of Andrei Sannikov Vladimir Kobets, coordinator of the campaign «European Belarus» Dmitri Bondarenko, members of the electoral headquarters of Nikolai Statkevich Arestovich Alexander and Sergei Martsaleu, deputy head of the organization «Young Front» Anastasia Polazhanko were recognized as prisoners of conscience.
Amnesty International is also looking into the cases of the other people who have been charged with the same offence in connection with the demonstration on 19 December, and there may be further prisoners of conscience among them. Human rights activists also reported that despite the release of ex-candidate Vital Rymasheuski and members of the UCP Anatoli Pavlov and Oleg Korban, the charges against them remain in force.
Amnesty International also called for the unconditional release of the prisoners of conscience. «This prosecution and ill-treatment of people who were demonstrating peacefully shows a blatant disregard for human rights by the Belarusian authorities and merits the strongest condemnation from the international community,» human rights activists said.
According to experts, the detainees were denied adequate access to lawyers and doctors despite some having been severely injured by riot police on the day of the demonstration.» Amnesty International has said among other things that they found no evidence they had either resorted to or incited violence before or during the demonstrations. According to human rights, only a small number of masked young men attacked the parliament buildings.
Reference: Prisoner of Conscience is a term referring to a person in custody or detained solely for peacefully expressing their political, religious or scientific views. Earlier scientist Yuri Bandazhevski, entrepreneurs Alexander Vasiliev and Valeri Levonevski, leader of «Young Front» Dmitrii Dashkevich, opposition activist Andrei Klimov, Igor Koktysh and Maxim Dashuk, presidential candidate Alexander Kozulin, the minister of foreign economic relations Mikhail Marynich were recognized as the Belarusian prisoners of conscience. Nikolai Statkevich and Pavel Seviarynets have become prisoners of conscience again.