Belarusian regime has groundlessly jailed three ecological activists, “Let them go!” Arnika demands

24. 3. 2017 - BELARUS

Although their meeting took place quietly and with the correct permit, around 50 people were brutally attacked and arrested without any justification by members of police units on March 15 in Minsk, Belarus. Among the detained are three members of the EcoHome organization: Marina Dubina, Xenia Maljukova and Alena Dubovik. We, from Arnika, have worked with EcoHome and are convinced that the incident shows that the civil society in Belarus, after several years of relative liberalization, is now once more under threat from the harsh injustice of authorities. The protest event in Minsk had nothing to do with environmental issues and the women now in custody only insisted on defending their civil rights. If freedom is endangered, an environmental protection is usually also unsure. That is why Arnika decided to join the declaration demanding an immediate release of all three women.

Arnika wishes to add its voice to this statement: "Environmental organizations in Belarus associated with the Green Network protest against the arrest of environmental activists Marina Dubina, Xenie Maljukova and Alena Dubovik in 2017, before the Parade of Non-Parasites and also after it finished."

Nearly 50 organizations from 24 countries have signed the open letter against the wave of repression, which is addressed to President Lukashenko.

On that Wednesday, several protests of non-parasites took place in Minsk, Moglev, and Hroden. Demonstrators called for a repeal of a presidential decree that requires unemployed people to pay taxes and also socially marginalized groups in other ways. These acts are reminiscent of the battle against "parasites," which took place in totalitarian Czechoslovakia. The organizers expressed the opinion that the state should invest in the creation of jobs. The events were permitted by the authorities. In Minsk, the number of participants was between 1,500 and 2,500 people.

Marina Dubina, the director of the NGO EcoHome, and Xenia Maljukova were members of the same organization, and they were inspired by the brute force. Alena Dubovik, another member of EcoHome, was arrested after the event in public transport on her way home. The trials were the day after the arrivals, and Marina Dubina was sentenced to 14 days in jail, Xenia Maljukova was sentenced to 13 days, and Alena Dubovik to 12 days of imrisonment. The declaration of the Green Network emphasizes the fact that all court cases were accompanied by false testimonies of witnesses who were actually members of OMON units. Not only did they give the incorrect information about it, but also about the reason for the arrests.

The members of EcoHome thus joined the ranks of environmental activists that are persecuted in authoritarian regimes around the world.

The Declaration of the Green Network and Arnika demands the following:

  • The immediate release of EcoHome activists and other arrested citizens;
  • An independent inquiry into the procedures used by members of the repressive units, including those directly associated with the use of force against activists;
  • And end to illegal and arbitrary arrests in Belarus;
  • The right to freedom of speech as well as the right to assemble;
  • An end to members of the security forces acting in plain clothes, without the appropriate symbols and uniforms.

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