Political prisoner, Ihar Losik, has been on hunger strike for 36 days, his health has deteriorated; Belaruskali August strike is declared illegal; in an attempt to manipulate the situation, Baskov mentions children in his comments on the cancellation of the Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk; TUT.BY is stripped of its media status
19 January 2021 | BYHelp-Mediagroup
#FreeIharLosik: Ihar Losik’s health has deteriorated as he has been on hunger strike for 36 days. Some people are joining in the hunger strike in his support
Ihar Losik, the administrator of the Telegram channel Belamova and a consultant to Radio Svaboda, has been in prison for almost six months. 36 days ago Ihar went on a hunger strike as a reaction to his detention being extended due to the initiation of the new criminal cases against him.
Since then Ihar has developed weakness and started having problems with blood pressure. But he does not give up and demands to be released. His wife and two-year-old daughter have been waiting for him. Losik is accused of organizing mass riots, but he insists on the complete lack of evidence for these charges.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called on Ihar to end the hunger strike. “You don’t need to sacrifice yourself. The regime does not care about people at all. We can see that the regime is unwilling to retreat from its brutality,” said Tsikhanouskaya. However, Ihar refused to break away from his principles.
The National Anti-Crisis Management team appealed to the representatives of the EU, USA and United Kingdom with a request to use all available means and pressure points to prevent Ihar Losik from dying.
Human rights activists declared Ihar a prisoner of conscience.
Diasporas are holding rallies and calling to support Ihar Losik and other prisoners.
Some Belarusians are joining in the hunger strike as a sign of solidarity with Ihar and to draw the attention of the international community to the problem of illegal detention of Belarusian citizens in prisons.
Today, on Epiphany Day, Orthodox priest Uladzislau Bahamolnikau declared a hunger strike in solidarity with Ihar Losik. Priest Uladzislau Bahamolnikau holds a PhD in Theology, and teaches philosophy and history of philosophy at Minsk Theological Academy. It was he who had performed the litany for Raman Bandarenka, the young man beaten to death by the security forces.
Two students of the Belarusian State Medical University, Margaryta Trafimovich and Eleanora Arzumanian, are also known to have gone on a hunger strike.
On Saturday 23 January at 3pm chains of solidarity in support of Ihar Losik and other political prisoners are planned across all cities in Belarus.
Belarus Supreme Court declared the strike at Belaruskali illegal
Belarus Supreme Court did not satisfy the complaint of the Belaruskali strike committee against the decision of the Minsk Regional Court from 11 September 2020. Then the court ruled that the strike held at the enterprise on 17 and 18 August 2020 was illegal.
On 17 August there were 120 cases of absenteeism and on 18 August 671 employees did not show up for work. At that time, between 6,000 and 7,000 employees out of in total 16,500 signed the demand for a strike. Formally, the strike was declared illegal due to the fact that it was held without a preliminary employee meeting, as required by law. The representatives of the strike committee notified the management about the strike while it was in progress on 18 August. The appeal was lodged by the representative of the strike committee, Anatoly Bakun, who asked to cancel this court decision due to the fact that the case was considered in his absence, and he was not informed about the time and place of the hearing.
Over the past few months employees of Belaruskali have been joining in the strike to express their disagreement with what is happening in the country and at the enterprise. As of early December 2020 more than 100 people have joined the strike. More than half of them have been fired by now.
Belaruskali is one of the largest suppliers of potash fertilizers to the world market. One of the main partners of Belaruskali is the Norwegian YARA which is one of the world’s largest fertilizer producers. YARA expressed concern over the situation at Belaruskali after the employees on strike were arrested and fired. In recent months there have also been cases of injury and death of miners. Belarusians all over the world call on YARA to suspend the contract and support the strikers.
Baskov erupted in criticism over the cancellation of the Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk. He also received the response
On Monday 18 January the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) denied Minsk the right to host the world championship. Security issues associated with the political situation in the country were stated as the reason for refusal. Prior to that, the largest sponsors of the championship (Skoda, Tissot, Nivea Men, Liqui Moly) refused to finance it due to the unprecedented infringement on human rights in Belarus. The official media and representatives of sports organizations erupted with angry comments. The head of the Belarus Ice Hockey Federation, Dmitry Baskov, whose involvement in the murder of Raman Bandarenka has been investigated by the IIHF, said that IIHF and the world’s largest brands had become the victims of political games around Belarus. Baskov’s appeal to the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSSF) caused a surge of indignation. “Today you are celebrating a victory, taking away a real celebration from the Belarusian people. After that, you cannot be considered Belarusians! You are traitors! First of all, you took the world championship from thousands of children playing hockey.” The captain of the Belarusian women’s national basketball team and activist of the Free Association of Athletes of Belarus, Katsiaryna Snytsina, commented on his appeal. “You are taking away parents from children! Taking away their older brothers and sisters in front of their very eyes! Arresting their grandparents!!! You are taking away these children’s coaches, their art teachers, the people who teach and educate them! You take them away forever!” said Snytsina.
News portal TUT.BY has finally been deprived of their media status
The TUT.BY online news portal was created more than 20 years ago and is one of the largest news portals in Belarus with 60% of the country’s Internet audience. Today the Minsk Economic Court upheld the decision to deprive TUT.BY of its media status. In this regard, journalists will lose the right to request official information from government agencies and will not be able to cover mass public events. But TUT.BY will continue to function. The journalists will continue to collect, receive, transmit and distribute information in accordance with the Belarusian legislation, and express their own opinion. Earlier, the Belarus Ministry of Information temporarily suspended the activities of TUT.BY as a media resource for the alleged dissemination of prohibited information, including materials on the falsification of the 9 August 2020 elections in Belarus. The news portal actively covered the protests against Alexander Lukashenko, and the journalists, who work for the portal, were arrested by the security forces several times. At the end of last year a joint statement on the human rights situation in Belarus by the US, EU and more than fifty other countries stated that “attacks on TUT.BY, the largest independent media outlet in Belarus, must stop”.
For more information on the events of 19 January 2021, please visit Infocenter Free Belarus 2020: