Amnesty International Starts Support Action for Jailed Belarus Opposition Activists


Amnesty International has announced the beginning of "summer postcard action" - human rights activists from all over the world are invited to send postcards with messages of support to jailed Belarus oppositionists.

As members of an unregistered organization called the Initiative Partnership, political activists Mikalay Astreyka, Enira Branizkaya, Alyaksandr Shalayka, and Timafey Dranchuk were preparing to monitor the presidential elections that took place in Belarus in March 2006, the Amnesty International website says.

Weeks before the elections, KGB officers raided and searched the organization's regional offices, then detained the four activists in the capital city, Minsk, on February 21, 2006. The four have been held since then in a KGB detention centre. Authorities charged the four with acting in the name of an unregistered organization. The three men and one woman face possible maximum prison sentences of three years. If they are sentenced to prison, Amnesty International will consider them to be prisoners of conscience and will call for their immediate release.

The Belarusian authorities are increasingly employing harassment, intimidation, excessive force, mass detentions and long-term imprisonment as methods to quash any civil or political dissent. President Alyaksandr Lukashenko, whose victory in the March elections was widely criticized by international observers as being the result of a process rife with irregularities, has imposed harsh restrictions on non-governmental organizations and increased control on all forms of opposition activity in his efforts to prevent a so-called "denim revolution," which is how the Belarus political opposition are characterizing their movement, the action's press release adds.