Writer Sasha Filipenko accused the Red Cross of collaborating with the Lukashenko regime; mine-worker Yury Korzun went on hunger strike because of his abduction by the security forces; pressure on environmentalists in Belarus has increased; new protests and arrests on Valentine’s Day
14 February 2021 | BYHelp-Mediagroup
Famous Belarusian writer Sasha Filipenko appeals to the head of the Red Cross
A major Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung has published an open letter from the Belarusian writer Sasha Filipenko to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer. Filipenko points out that since the beginning of peaceful protests in Belarus dozens of medical workers have been dismissed for their civic stance, and more than two hundred doctors and nurses were arrested and detained. Some were beaten, many were fined and given for up to 45 days detention. Doctors do not get their work contracts renewed for posts on social media. During the dispersal of peaceful protests, armed security forces used ambulance vans taking advantage of the fact that the protesters will give way to vehicles marked with a red cross. In Belarus, peaceful civilians are held in prison punishment cells for weeks, without access to hot water or hygiene products. Detainees are subjected to torture, psychological and physical pressure. The Belarusian Red Cross is chaired by the Minister of Health of Belarus Dzmitry Pinevich who is directly subordinate to Lukashenko, which contradicts the position of neutrality of the International Red Cross (IRC). According to Filipenko, the IRC in this way cooperates with a criminal regime, which in 2020 is building a concentration camp for political prisoners in the center of Europe. Sasha Filipenko is the author of five novels and a number of short stories. His works are translated into ten European languages and Japanese. A theatre production based on Filipenko’s novel The Red Cross is running at the Gogol Center theatre in Moscow.
Security forces put pressure on Belarusian environmentalists
Environmental activists and organizations in Belarus have been over the past weeks experiencing increased pressure from the security forces. Arrests, search raids, personal searches, equipment seizures are carried out. Criminal and administrative cases are initiated against environmental activists and local residents who sympathise with them. “In these conditions of lawlessness, lack of environmental public control and an independent expert community will inevitably lead to the emergence of additional environmental risks and threats. Especially considering the launch of the first power unit of the Astravets nuclear power plant. In these conditions, the current government can hardly count on constructive cooperation at the international level. Sharing borders with Belarus becomes environmentally unsafe for other countries.” This is included in the statement sent to the BelaPAN independent news agency on 13 February 2021, signed by the Belarusian Green Party, the Green Network ecological partnership, the EcoDom public association and the Belarusian Anti-Nuclear Campaign.
Mine-worker Yury Korzun accused security officers of kidnapping and went on hunger strike
Mine-worker Yury Korzun was arrested outside his home in the early morning of 11 February as he warmed up his car to take his child to school. He was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest. The declared reason for it was participation in a mass rally. According to the Telegram channel Stachkom Azota, as a means of protest, at the trial, Korzun submitted a written application to start a hunger strike in connection with the kidnapping without explanation, illegal administrative proceedings, and violation of his constitutional rights. Yury Korzun had previously spent 15 days in detention for participating in an unauthorized rally, a tea party in the park. At the end of the detention he was not released, as he was given a further 15 days’ detention. In September 2020, Yury Korzun chained himself to mining equipment refusing to leave the mine in protest. After that he joined the strike.
“I love Belarus!”: protests and yet another ridiculous mass arrests
On 14 February, Valentine’s Day, Belarusians took part in Sunday protests under the slogan “I love Belarus”. In this way Belarusians confessed their love to all those who are now in prison for their civic stance and to their dear country. In Minsk, feminists danced against violence, joining the international campaign One Billion Rising. “Love is not violence. And it does not matter whether violence takes place at home or is inflicted by the state, any violence is unacceptable,” rally participants explained.
In the late evening on 13 February, riot police arrested 68 participants and spectators at the concert of the Belarusian bands RSP (Razbitae Serca Patsana), Panska Moc and Ok-Band at the Ogonyok recreation center not far from Minsk. The Ministry of Internal Affairs said that “activists of destructive Telegram channels gathered under the disguise of a music party”.
Arrests also took place in Salihorsk. OMON riot police arrested peaceful civilians who went for a walk in the park. The arrested did not even have time to gather in a group, they did not carry any symbols or shout out slogans. Some of the arrested are representatives of the Belaruskali strike committee.
For more information on the events of 14 February 2020, please visit Infocenter Free Belarus 2020: