Pavel Siaviaryniec: Responsibility for the fate of political prisoners rests on us Belarusians

Honest, intelligent, always smiling, talented, born speaker. After the release from a special penitary unit in Kuplin, Pavel Siaviaryniec again actively participates in the work of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party. Soon after his arrival in Minsk  recorded a short interview with Pavel, in which former political prisoner answers for one of the most important questions – how to release all Belarusian political prisoners?

– Pavel, what can you tell about the conditions of your imprisonment? Has the administration posed particular problems, taking into account your political status?

– Thanks God, the forced labour sentence was easier than imprisonment in regular prison. Perhaps I was in worse position than those who were given house arrest or conditional term, but I was in a better position compared to those who are in prisons. In the forced labour unit it was possible to have mobile phone and the administration was afraid to organize open provocations. As the use of any violence would be immediately passed to the public opinion. When they tried to, for example, forbid me to go to church, they said that I was limited in everything, that the restriction of freedom is also a restriction of freedom of religion, in a few days I managed to inform public opinion and they allowed me to attend church. When I started to work in the unit, I was able to defend myself against the violations of the Labour Code, I worked from 8 to 5, five days a week. I could not agree for longer work hours. Although I am a political prisoner, I have my rights. The system was unable to break me because the public opinion as well as the law were on my side.

On the other hand, my job and working with people who came to me or with convicts – all this has been possible. It was possible to once every two weeks organize meetings and discuss Bible. It was possible to maintain correspondence, I received 2.5 thousand letters. More than 230 people have become subscribers to the Krynica newsletter, prepared by the BCD. So as you can see, it was possible to work.

– How would you comment on the situation of political prisoners that are currently serving their sentences? As media inform they are being pressured by the authorities, especially Autukhovich.

– It’s much harder case. In prison, the authorities can do almost anything to a man. Therefore Autukhovich self-mutilated himself in the act of desperation, Vaskovich is being held in solitary confinement, and Dashkievich, whom I saw recently, is nothing but skin and bones – a man in the prime of life, 32 years old, and his skin is yellow. Even if someone possesses the great inner strength, jail simply destroys man. On Statkevich and Bialiatski the pressure is stronger, they are not allowed to receive packages, inmates not only report on them, but sometimes provoke them. This is the reality with which met anyone who was in Belarusian prison. Soviet penal system works well. One can only pray for those who are there, help them and try to shorten their sentence term.

– What steps should be taken by the Belarusian and international community to release political prisoners as soon as possible?

– I am convinced that the main factor is the pressure exerted by Belarusians on Belarusian authorities. It will allow Europeans to take a clear position. If the pressure on Belarusian side disappears even minimally, the Europeans will face a problem and sooner or later the issue of political prisoners will be forgotten. In my opinion this is happening now, step by step. But the responsibility does not rest on the Europeans, but on us. There was a time, when the Christian Democrats led an action of solidarity with political prisoners and every day in one of cities activists distributed leaflets, information, videos, and organized protests. When will this happened every day when it will take place with the participation of thousands of people (and this is possible even in the current situation), then I am more than certain that political prisoners will be released after few months. Organizing such actions and  informing people about situation of political prisoners, is just a matter of honor. It is a task that is beyond dispute and that should be in the first place. One for all and all for one!


Other political prisoners

  • Vincuk Viachorka
  • Mikita Likhavid
  • Aliaksandr Fieduta
  • Dzmitry Daronin
  • Nasta Dashkievich