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Thursday, August 18, 2005

 

New factsheets and letters for Marinich campaign

We've updated our factsheets and letters again. The text is below. The files can also be downloaded in .wps format in British and American versions.

Factsheet:



Speak out for justice in Belarus!


During the last week of December 2004, Mikhail Marinich stood before a court in Belarus, accused of stealing computers. Marinich was not a typical petty thief. A former economics minister and ambassador, he was a prominent figure in the political opposition. The case against him was hardly compelling: The U.S. State Department, who owned the supposedly purloined computers, denied they had been stolen at all.

But Marinich was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. The outcome had been certain from the beginning. This is the price Belarusians pay for opposing their president, Alexander Lukashenka.

A recent Amnesty International report observed that 'it is becoming increasingly dangerous to criticize the regime in Belarus. Leading members of the opposition, human rights defenders and journalists who voice criticism risk criminal charges for slandering the President.' Many journalists and activists have been arrested; others have died in mysterious circumstances or simply disappeared. In a speech on 21 April 2005, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice described Belarus as the ‘last true dictatorship’ in Europe.

Marinich, who suffers from high blood pressure, has been kept in harsh conditions without medical treatment. On 7 March, after being denied medication for four days, he suffered a stroke. He has had relapses of ill health ever since.

Worldwide protests have already led to some improvements in Marinich‘s situation. His sentence was reduced to three and a half years in response to the outcry, and was then reduced by a further year as part of a general amnesty in August 2005. International pressure also forced the Belarusian government to let Marinich have medical treatment outside the prison colony after his stroke. However, he is still not permitted to see his lawyer or to appeal against his conviction.

We must keep up pressure on the Belarusian authorities until Marinich -- and all political prisoners in Belarus -- are free. You can help by signing and returning the attached letter to the Belarusian embassy.

The Volodymyr Campaign is a voluntary initiative devoted to informing the public about human-rights issues in the former Soviet Union. To learn more, please visit http://volodymyrcampaign.blogspot.com/ or e-mail us at volodymyrcampaign@btinternet.com.


UK version of the letter:


His Excellency Alyaksei Mazhukhou
Ambassador of Belarus
6 Kensington Court
London W8 5DL

Excellency:

I am writing to you about the opposition politician Mikhail Marinich, who is currently serving a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for the theft of computer equipment.

It is my understanding that the United States government, the owner of the computers in question, denies that they were stolen and has called for Mr Marinich to be set free. There are further reports that Mr Marinich was not given a fair trial and that he was arrested because of his activity with Belarus‘s political opposition. If true, this constitutes a grave violation of his rights to a fair trial, to free expression and to participation in government (Articles 9-11 and 18-21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). I understand that Mr Marinich’s health has declined in prison and that he has been denied meetings with his lawyers.

On humanitarian grounds, I appeal to the Belarusian government to do the following:

To release Mr Marinich pending a full and fair review of the charges against him.
To allow him fair legal representation.
To permit him to receive any medical treatment necessary.

Thank you very much.

Yours sincerely,





U.S. version:


His Excellency Mikhail Khvostov
Ambassador of Belarus
1619 New Hampshire Avenue., N.W.
Washington, DC 20009

Excellency:

I am writing to you about the opposition politician Mikhail Marinich, who is currently serving a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for the theft of computer equipment.

It is my understanding that the United States government, the owner of the computers in question, denies that they were stolen and has called for Mr Marinich to be set free. There are further reports that Mr Marinich was not given a fair trial and that he was arrested because of his activity with Belarus‘s political opposition. If true, this constitutes a grave violation of his rights to a fair trial, to free expression and to participation in government (Articles 9-11 and 18-21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). I understand that Mr Marinich’s health has declined in prison and that he has been denied meetings with his lawyers.

On humanitarian grounds, I appeal to the Belarusian government to do the following:

To release Mr Marinich pending a full and fair review of the charges against him.
To allow him fair legal representation.
To permit him to receive any medical treatment necessary.

Thank you very much.

Yours sincerely,



Comments:
Keep up the good work! I'll link to you and wish you all the best from Berlin.
 
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