Index on Censorship
DIARY NOTICE – SATURDAY 19 FEBRUARY
PROTEST AT BELARUS EMBASSY IN SOLIDARITY WITH PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE
The protest is held in solidarity with all the victims of President Lukashenko’s regime in Belarus, particularly the prisoners currently detained by the secret police. The trials of the prisoners are expected to begin this week. It is organised by The Belarus Committee, an influential group of NGOs including Index on Censorship, Amnesty International, Article 19 and English PEN, together with individuals including Sir Tom Stoppard. Patrons include Vaclav Havel and Mikhael Gorbachev.
Actor Samuel West will hand in a letter of protest and address the demonstration outside the Belarusian embassy at Kensington Court in London, this Saturday 19 February at 2pm [map here].
Mike Harris of Index on Censorship said:
“The fate of the prisoners is of deep concern. Their access to legal representation has been limited and many were very badly beaten on the night of the elections. There are serious concerns over the health of the prisoners. All this is happening in Europe today. We must act now.”
Belarus is Europe’s last dictatorship. The Presidential elections last December were described by the OSCE as “seriously flawed”, with the count in half of the polling districts “bad or very bad”. During a post-election rally in Independence Square in Minsk the authorities arrested members of the country’s political opposition and civil society activists. Over 600 people were arrested that evening including Natalia Koliada from the Belarus Free Theatre and Index on Censorship award nominee Natalia Radzina.
Currently, 33 prisoners are still kept in custody. Journalist Irina Khalip, the wife of Presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, and Presidential candidate Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu are both under punitive house arrest. They face up to 15 years in prison for orchestrating a “mass riot”.