Minsk harassing critics, rights group says

Aug. 7, 2013 at 11:45 AM
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PARIS, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- A human rights consortium called on the government of Belarus to stop harassing political rights leaders.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders said it was informed of the detention of Tatsiana Reviaka and Uladzimir Labkovich, members of a human rights center in Minsk.They were arrested after taking part in Minsk demonstrations marking the second anniversary of the arrest of Ales Bialiatski, president of their group in Minsk.

Labkovich and Tatsiana were found guilty of violating laws against "mass events," fined approximately $330 and set free by authorities in Minsk. They were later summoned back to court. Both were detained Monday after handing out postcards depicting Bialiatski in downtown Minsk.

The observatory said Wednesday the "harassment against them is merely aimed at sanctioning their right to freedom of assembly and more generally their legitimate human rights activities."

In a letter addressed to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, the organization called for the release of Bialiatski and "an end to any kind of harassment" against his supporters.

Human Rights Watch said Bialiatski was subjected to harsh treatment while in prison. He was arrested on tax evasion charges in 2011 and sentenced to more than four years.

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