Home Page > News Item > BELARUS: Serious concern for the health of journalist Dimitry Bondarenko

RAN 17/12 13 April 2012

PEN International is alarmed by reports of the deteriorating health of journalist and political activist, Dimitry Bondarenko (also referred to as Dzmitry Bandarenka), imprisoned since December 2010 for his part in peaceful demonstrations. PEN is calling for his release, and that pending his freedom, he be given access to all necessary medical attention.

On 12 April, a number of Belarus human rights NGOs published a statement on the deterioration of Bondarenko’s health as follows:

We have received worrying reports of a steady deterioration in health of Dzmitry Bandarenka, leader of the civic campaign “European Belarus” and authorized representative of Presidential candidate in 2010, Andrei Sannikov.

Mr Bandarenka, who was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for taking part in a peaceful gathering on 19 December 2010, is being held in Colony No. 15 in the city of Mohylev.

On 14 March 2012 the Belarusian media published the results of a medical assessment carried out by a Ukrainian doctor, Andrei Rokhansky. On the basis of medical documents, Dr Rokhansky stated that the conditions which the colony administration has created for Dimitry Bondarenko, fall under the category of torture and ill-treatment.

Dimitry Bondarenko is suffering from a stomach ulcer, spinal disk hernia and gout. During his imprisonment he has undergone two complex operations on the spine which require long-term rehabilitation, as well as on the leg, this being necessitated by the inadequate conditions and lack of proper rehabilitation. On the basis of their medical analysis Bondarenko’s doctors have stated that he must completely avoid lifting heavy weights as well as bending or squatting down. He is not receiving the requisite medical assistance in the penal colony and could be faced with permanent invalid status.

Given Dimitry Bondarenko’s very grave state of health, we urge the Belarusian authorities to release this political prisoner immediately. We are convinced that the trial of Bondarenko is not in keeping with international standards for a fair trial, and the sentence passed was politically motivated. We call on them to release all political prisoners and withdraw the charges against them.To read the statement visit http://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/3039/en/belarus:-serious-concern-over-health-of-political-prisoner-dzmitry-bandarenka

Bondarenko a PEN main case and a journalist with Charter 97, was sentenced on 27 April 2011 to two years in prison under Article 342 of the Criminal Code of Belarus for ‘preparation of activities that disrupt the public order’ and ordered to pay a fine for damages to public transport. He was arrested on 19 December 2010, during the mass arrests which followed protests against the flawed presidential elections, and originally charged with ‘organisation of riots’. He was also accused of using the internet to call for participation in the protest and ‘expressing false statements about undemocratic elections’. Bondarenko admitted his participation in the mass demonstrations, but pleaded not guilty to the other charges.

Appeals should continue to be sent to the Belarusian authorities:

Protesting at the actions of the Belarusian authorities in refusing to provide prisoners with adequate medical attention and denying them access to lawyers.
Protesting the two-year sentence against Dimitry Bondarenko, accused of involvement in the demonstration but where the charges are considered to be based on unfounded evidence and are politically motivated.
Calling for an end to the persecution of press and media outlets by the Belarusian authorities

Government address
President of the Republic of Belarus
Alyaksandr G. Lukashenka
Karl Marx Str. 38
220016 g. Minsk
Fax: + 375 172 26 06 10 or +375 172 22 38 72
Email: pres@president.gov.by

Similar appeals should be sent to the Belarusian Embassy in your own country.

**Please contact the PEN office if sending appeals after 15 May 2012**
For further information please contact Sara Whyatt at the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (02) 20 7405 0338 Fax: +44 (0) 20 74050339 Email: sara.whyatt@pen-international.org