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Belarus: Philosopher Uladzimir Mackievič held in pre-trial detention

Thursday 2 December 2021 - 3:08pm

Uladzimir Mackievič has been held In pre-trial detention since 4 August 2021

RAN 07/2021

“I understand that I was arrested because of my articles, statements, ideas, and thoughts, that is, I’m going to be tried for “malice” according to Orwell. This is what best characterizes the current regime in Belarus.”

Uladzimir Mackievič, August 2021

Renowned philosopher Uladzimir Mackievič has been held in pre-trial detention in Minsk since 4 August 2021. He has been charged with organising and preparing actions that grossly violate public order, under Article 342 (1) of the Criminal Code of Belarus. He faces up to three years in prison if convicted. A date for his trial hearing has yet to be set.

PEN International believes that Uladzimir Mackievič is being targeted for his views and writings critical of the Belarusian authorities. PEN calls for his immediate and unconditional release and for all charges against him to be dropped.

TAKE ACTION: Please send appeals to the Belarusian authorities, calling on them to:

  • Release Uladzimir Mackievič immediately and unconditionally, and to drop all charges against him;
  • Pending his release, ensure that he is provided with regular communication with his family, lawyers and adequate health care;
  • Abide by their international human rights obligations and uphold the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.

Send appeals to:

Andrei Shved

Role: Prosecutor General of the Republic of Belarus

Address: Vul. Internatsianalnaya 22, 220030 Minsk, Belarus

Email: info@prokuratura.gov.by

Vladimir Makei

Role: Minister of Foreign Affairs

Address: Vul. Lienina, 19, Minsk 220030, Belarus

Email: mail@mfa.gov.by

Send copies to the Embassy of Belarus in your own country. Embassy addresses may be found here: https://mfa.gov.by/en/bilateral/belarus/?asd50

Please reach out to your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic representatives in Belarus, calling on them to raise Uladzimir Mackievič’s case in bilateral fora.

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 2 June 2022. ***

Please inform PEN International of any action you take and any responses you receive. Messages can be sent to Aurélia Dondo, Europe Programme Coordinator: Aurelia.dondo@pen-international.org

Solidarity

Please send messages of solidarity to:

Uladzimir Mackievič

Pre-trial detention center No. 1. 220030,

Minsk, vulica Valadarskaha 2

Belarus

The prison administration is more likely to accept messages if written in Russian. Please find a model letter below:

Dear Uladzimir, we stand with you and celebrate your work and courage. We will keep advocating for your freedom.

Дорогой Владимир, мы c вами! Мы невероятно ценим ваш труд и мужество! Мы будем и дальше бороться за вашу свободу!

Publicity

PEN members are encouraged to:

  • Publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Uladzimir Mackievič and the state of freedom of expression in Belarus;
  • Share information about Uladzimir Mackievič and your campaigning activities via social media.

Please keep us informed of your actions in support of Uladzimir Mackievič.

Background

Uladzimir Mackievič (Уладзімір Уладзіміравіч Мацкевіч), born on 14 May 1956, is a prominent Belarusian philosopher, essayist, public figure, and broadcaster. He played a key role in launching Charter’97, a civic initiative aimed at restoring democracy and human rights in Belarus. In 2011, after being stripped of the right to teach at Belarusian public universities for criticising President Alexander Lukashenko, he co-founded the Flying University, an independent platform aimed at promoting critical thinking. Prior to his arrest, he had been hosting “Talk of the Day”, a show on Belsat TV channel since 2012. A prolific writer, Mackievič penned numerous journalistic articles and about 50 research papers on philosophy, politics, culture, and transformation of education. He co-authored a series of books on civil society, dialogue, and values entitled Belarus for Beginners (2006-2009) and published video courses on philosophy and social change. His main books include Belarus: Against the Obvious (Think Belarus Manifesto) (1994), Belarusian Democracy. In Defiance of the Obvious (1996), Moscow Must Be Destroyed (1998), Challenging Silence (2006), The University: a debate about foundations (2011), and Global warming after the Cold War (2017).

Uladzimir Mackievič was detained on 4 August 2021 after the Belarusian KGB raided his house. He was transferred to a pre-trial detention centre on 15 August and charged with organising and preparing actions that grossly violate public order, under Article 342 (1) of the Criminal Code of Belarus. That same month, he was able to respond to an interview by Deutsche Welle in writing, stressing that ‘Repressions against philosophers and intellectuals are characteristic of totalitarian regimes that claim to rearrange the world completely, while for authoritarian regimes, it is more of a mishap and a slip-up. But since the regime did that, it put itself next to the most inhuman regimes of the 20th century’ – and calling on all political leaders and citizens of Belarus to unite. Mackievič remains in pre-trial detention, with no date set for the hearing of his case yet.

Mass and largely peaceful protests have swept Belarus since the disputed presidential elections of 9 August 2020, which saw Alexander Lukashenko return to a sixth term in office. The Belarusian authorities have responded with brutality and repression against critics and moved to ‘purge’ civil society, notably dissolving the Belarusian PEN Centre on 9 August 2021. According to a compelling report published by the Center, over 1000 cultural workers have been persecuted since January 2021.

For more information about PEN’s work on Belarus, including PEN International’s campaign to free writer, and prominent human rights defender Ales Bialiatski, please click here.

Watch PEN International’s Webinar Freedom of Expression: Repression and Resolve in Belarus, Nicaragua, and Eritrea (November 2021): https://youtu.be/BvFf4NY-HJE

For further details contact Aurélia Dondo at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 email: Aurelia.dondo@pen-international.org