Belarusian Prison Authorities Endanger Health of Political Prisoner | Freedom House

Belarusian Prison Authorities Endanger Health of Political Prisoner

Dima Bondarenko,a Belarusian political prisoner, will be forced by prison authorities in Belarus to undergo spinal surgery without sufficient recovery time before being returned to prison according to human rights groups. Bondarenko has reportedly been subjected to inhumane conditions in prison that have led to multiple health problems including stomach ulcers and spinal disease. According to his wife, Bondarenko was not given an option with regards to having the surgery and will be sent back to his cell after only two weeks, despite a need for months of rehabilitation. Bonadarenko is in extreme pain and his right leg partially paralyzed. Surgery could permanently cripple him if prison authorities send him back before he has had time to fully recover.

On April 27, Bondarenko, a former campaign aide for opposition leader Andrei Sannikov, was sentenced to two years in a minimum-security prison for participating in the December 19 protests.  Since the protests following the December election, Belarusian authorities have continued to crack down on members of the opposition, civil society and journalists, who have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms or have fled the country. President Lukashenka recently proposed a dialogue with the west in exchange for pardoning political prisoners. In June 2011, hundreds were beaten, arrested, and dozens sentenced to prison, including journalists, after participating in virtually silent “clapping protests.” In late May, several opposition leaders, including Andrei Sannikov, Mikalay Statkevich, and Dzmitry Uss, received harsh prison sentences for organizing a large anti-government protest.

Freedom House condemns the utter disregard for Bondarenko’s health by prison authorities and calls for his immediate releaseso that he can receive proper medical care.

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