In Belarus, yellow tags single out political prisoners – Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia 2021-06-04 08:54:55 –

Kiev, Ukraine (AP) — Natalia Makavetskaya saw a deep scar on her wrist when she visited her son in a Belarusian prison …

Kiev, Ukraine (AP) — When visiting his son in a Belarusian prison, Natalia Makavetskaya found a deep scar on his tightly handcuffed wrist. She also noticed a yellow tag sewn on his clothes.

Tags marked those imprisoned for participating in demonstrations against dictator Alexander Lukashenko and chose them for “especially harsh prison situations,” Makabetsukaya told The Associated Press.

“They decided that my son was prone to radicalism and treated him accordingly,” she said in a telephone interview.

Her son Vladislau Makabetsky was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for threatening police officers with an atrtr ​​stick during a police clash with protesters in local Vitebsk in December. He denied the charges and said he had only tried to protect the old man who had been beaten by the police, and had just thrown the baton dropped by one of the police officers.

Makabetsky told her mother that authorities at Penal Colony No. 22 near Brest on the Polish border temporarily banned personal belongings and visits. During the daily line-up, he was ordered to stand away from the other prisoners and say, “I tend to be radical.” Prisoners tagged with yellow also perform extensive searches on a regular basis.

The 28-year-old wood carver was one of more than 35,000 people arrested in Belarus for cracking down on protests after Lukashenko was reelected for the sixth term in a vote in August 2020. Thousands were badly beaten by the police.

On May 23, a widespread crackdown was refocused after a Ryanair plane from Greece to Lithuania detoured to Minsk and arrested dissident journalist Raman Platasevic on board. European Union officials have accused the action of piracy of airplanes and imposed further sanctions on the country.

According to Belarusian human rights activists, authorities have tightened prison conditions for those who participated in protests in recent months. Many of them are tagged with yellow, a practice condemned by human rights activists.

“The yellow tag shows a direct connection to the yellow Star of David for Nazi German Jews. It’s hard to understand why the Belarusian authorities did it.” “In any case, these dangers Experiments lead to the stigma of political prisoners by prison authorities and other prisoners. “

Biasna states that at least 460 political prisoners have been held in Belarusian prisons in criminal accusations related to protests with a sentence of six months to several years.

Belarusian authorities have ignored criticisms of the harsh conditions of imprisoned protesters. Lukashenko has repeatedly cast protesters as clues as a Western espionage agency’s effort to destabilize Belarus and force a change in government.

In addition to Makavetskaya, three women told AP that when their sons visited in April and May, they had yellow tags on their clothes.

One of them sought to identify only by her first name, Variantina, for fear of retaliation from the authorities. Her son told her that she was handcuffed 24 hours a day. Minsk IT professionals have been sentenced to four years in the first penal colony in the city of Novoporotsk.

“My son was detained in a punishment cell for days, spreading his legs wide and causing severe pain, whispering to me that he would leave no trace,” she told AP.

Another prisoner given the yellow tag was Katsiaryna Barysevich, a journalist on the independent news portal Tut.by.

“I don’t say I’m broken,” Barisevic told reporters after his release. “I learned to look crazy calmly.”

Liubou Kaspiarovich, another Tut.by journalist who was put in jail for 15 days last month for covering a protest-related trial, was bleached with chlorine, along with 14 others in a two-bed cell. He said he had to sleep on a still wet concrete floor.

“They woke us up many times in the middle of the night and ordered us to report an article about the criminal law indicted. Every morning we poured a bucket of chlorine on the floor,” Kaspiarovich told AP. “And they put a homeless woman with lice in our cell.”

One of the first to pay attention to the harsh conditions and the yellow tag of political prisoners, Vitold Ashlok, died in Shukurov’s prison and was sentenced to five years in prison for participating in protests. Said that 50-year-old Shukurov died of a heart attack on May 21, but his death certificate did not state the cause of death.

When Aza and his bandaged body were handed over to his relatives, authorities released a video after a man allegedly Ashlok grabbed his head and fell, before police entered. Opposition parties said the video had been tampered with.

Biasna’s Stephanovich questioned the official version of Ashlok’s death.

“A perfectly healthy person died suddenly during detention … and they bandaged and handed over the body without identifying the cause of death,” he said. “What should a person think?”

His death brought about a whirlpool of anger.

“He died in the battle for freedom and a bright future in Belarus,” US Ambassador Julie Fisher said on Twitter. “Unjustified imprisonment and meaningless death demand accountability.” I added.

Another prisoner tried to cut his throat with a pen in court on Tuesday after authorities threatened his family with criminal accusations. Stsiapan Latypau, 41, was hospitalized and subsequently medically induced. I fell into a coma.

The German Foreign Ministry has expressed shock and anger at the incident. “It symbolizes the despair that Lukashenko brings to the public through oppression and the brutal violence used there,” said Maria Adebar, a spokeswoman for the ministry.

Relatives of human rights activists and detainees have called on the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit Belarusian prisons to investigate the situation of political prisoners.

“They are cracking down and there is no way to know the truth about what is happening behind the walls of Belarusian prisons, which carry on the worst Soviet traditions,” said Stephanovich of Biasna.


Contributed by Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press writer in Moscow, and Frank Jordans in Berlin.


Follow all AP stories about Belarusian development at https://apnews.com/hub/belarus.

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