Who should be relied on when the release of political prisoners is being concerned, politicians, human rights defenders or the international community? Aleksiej Janukievich, the chairman of the BPF Party gave an interview to Palitviazni.info
Aleksiej, do you remember how during the election campaign in 2012, the community was outraged when the candidates appearing on radio and television did not take up the subject of political prisoners. And when some politicians happened to mention the issue of prisoners of conscience, the civil society was not satisfied because they did not mention their names. Do you think that this indicates that as far as the release of all political prisoners is being concerned, everyone is counting on you, the politicians?
Aleksiej Janukievich: Democratic part of the population to some extent, is hoping that the opposition in the country, is able to influence the fate of political prisoners. Objectively speaking, nowadays, democratically oriented Belarusian citizens have a fairly limited ability to influence the situation of political prisoners.
Of course, in this case it is impossible to overestimate the role of the Belarusian human rights organizations, which not only support political prisoners and their families, but they have regular contacts with international human rights groups. And the voice of the Belarusian human rights defenders in Belarus, as well as in the free world, is very loud.
The BPF Party, as well as our colleagues in other democratic parties and political organizations, we do everything to raise this unpleasant topic at every turn, both at meetings in the country and outside Belarus.
In my view, in this case , it is important to provide information to the public opinion in clear and understandable messages . Currently, the majority of Belarusians are aware that many people have been wrongfully convicted. What’s more, people are opposed to the fraudulent dealings with political opponents. But still, many people believe that the issue of political prisoners is a problem only of the opposition. That’s why we strive to ensure that the Belarusian society should not only learn about the existence of this problem, but should realize that the problem of political prisoners directly affects their lives. It is for this reason, that Belarus is now separated from the partnership with the developed Western countries, and yet it is through the many programs that we could reap the benefits of the new standards, technologies , various resources, including material that could significantly improve the lives of all Belarusians.
Is there being organized a kind of a PR campaign of political prisoners? What is your view on this matter?
Aleksiej Janukievich: I think that PR in the sphere of Belarusian politics is basically useless, because currently there is no mechanism of direct conversion of opinions. Unfortunately, there are attempts to create the negative PR of political prisoners by political opponents. Perhaps these provocations are caused by the special services, and are designed to sow distrust among the opposition. In the democratic ranks we may meet those who are trying to do negative PR to political prisoners, let us mention here even internal dispute about the opposition tactics in previous elections: to participate or not. Some supporters of the boycott have used the following argument: candidates betray political prisoners. Although it is clear that these issues are not interconnected in any way, and the boycott of the elections in no way contribute to the release of political prisoners.
From another point of view, in the social understanding of morality, the defense of political prisoners always looks clearly positive, so someone can attempt to collect more points in politics and use the topic of political prisoners to own gain. But any mention of political prisoners works in their favor, so it’s hard to blame someone, if his/her actions are dictated to a lesser or greater extent, to their own gain. For everyone it is a matter of his/her own conscience.
What action should be taken by the Belarusian society, the international community, every citizen of Belarus, to release political prisoners as soon as possible?
Aleksiej Janukievich: In the case of political prisoners, acting alone, will not do. Solidarity is crucial in order to defend and release political prisoners. The public opinion should be aware of the situation of the political prisoners. In my view, to improve the situation of political prisoners, every conscious citizen of Belarus in conversations with friends, colleagues, neighbors, must prove that the detention of political prisoners has a very negative impact on the development prospects of the country, on the outlook for economic growth, and finally on the prospect of a better future for Belarus. The issue of political prisoners – is a problem not only of their relatives, not only of law and morality, it is the problem of practical nature – the quality of life in the country.
It is important to convince the public opinion that the detention of political prisoners is not acceptable and that it is also their problem, the problem of every Belarusian.