Death row prisoner Ihar Hershankou goes on hunger strike

Ihar Hershankou (second right) on trial at the Supreme Court. Photo:
Ihar Hershankou (second right) on trial at the Supreme Court. Photo:

Ihar Hershankou, who was earlier sentenced to death, says he is beginning a hunger strike while on death row in Minsk’s detention center No. 1 to protest numerous violations of his right to correspondence, Viasna learned from the prisoner’s mother.

According to her, many of Hershankou’s letters have been withdrawn by the prison authorities, including a message to the Belarusian delegation to the United Nations and updates for human rights defenders.

The few letters that do reach death row are severely sanitized by the prison sensors, the woman says.

“My letters are usually delivered, but during my yesterday’s visit Ihar showed me my previous letter in which in two pages of text only four lines were not smeared by the censor’s pen. I sent him a telegram to say that his complaints did not reach the destination, but it was also withdrawn,” she said.

The Investigative Committee earlier denied Hershankou’s rights were violated. Siarhei Kabakovich, head of the IC’s Department of Public Relations, said in an interview with the BelaPAN news agency that the prisoner’s complaint was investigated and no violations were found.

In mid-June, deputy chairman of the Supreme Court suspended for a month the execution of death sentences against Ihar Hershankou and Siamion Berazhnoy while their appeals were under consideration.

Ihar Hershankou and Siamion Berazhnoy were sentenced to death by the Mahilioŭ Regional Court on July 21, 2017.

On December 20, 2017, the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court upheld both verdicts.

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Death verdics in Belarus since 1990