Ukrainian human rights organizations call on the international community to defend the students illegally detained by the Belarusian authorities

Belarusian security forces continue to detain male and female students arrested on 12 November 2020, on the so-called “Black Thursday”, on charges of organizing and preparing the actions that violate the public order, or participation in such actions. 
On 12 January, during closed court hearings the detention of nine students was continued. Mariya Kalenyk, Kseniya Syromolot, Kasya Budko, Yana Orobeyko, Yegor Kanetsky, Glib Fitsner, Ilya Trahtenberg, Victoriya Granovska and Anastasiya Bulybenko are activists of student self-government. As noted by the students who managed to avoid being detained due to travel abroad, the security forces identified the participants by hacking the chats. By “violation of public order” the Belarusian authorities understand the ongoing protests against the results of the election and the proclamation of Oleksandr Lukashenko as the President. 
According to the media, the law enforcement agencies that detained the students often did not contact their relatives, did not notify them about the students’ whereabouts and the conditions of detention of the young people, did not allow the lawyers to visit them. Thus, according to Ukrainian human rights organizations, the detention of the students by the Belarusian law enforcement bodies or the people acting of their behalf can be qualified as enforced disappearances according to Art. 2 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. 
Furthermore, according to the information of “Medusa” edition, the conditions of detention of the students are inadequate. In particular, the parents of Kseniya Budko state that she is not taken out for walks, insufficient lighting in the cell causes a significant deterioration of the girl’s eyesight. The information about the condition of detention of some students is absent at all.
In addition, because of the closed examination of the arrest of the activists the human rights defenders cannot assess the motivation of charges against them, but with a great deal of confidence this allows us to assert that the persecution of students has a political nature.  
The data published by the International Committee for Investigation of Torture in Belarus in December 2020 concerning the mass use of torture and inhuman treatment of the detained in the period between September and November 2020 cause us serious concerns about what is happening to young people in detention facilities.  
The statements of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights concerning the lack of data about the course of investigation of mass reports about the torture and ill-treatment of the detained protesters, in our opinion, did not find a proper response from the international community, in particular, the politicians and officials of the European Union, and from Ukrainian authorities as well, which, in turn, leads to condoning the impunity of the Lukashenko regime and deterioration of the situation with human rights in Belarus.  
We believe that the consolidation of efforts of the international community around the release of the innocent students detained by the Lukashenko regime would also be able to move the general situation with observance of human rights in Belarus and stop the regime’s repressive actions.  
We call for the governments of the European Union, Ukrainian authorities, intergovernmental and international human rights organizations to take all measures for the release of the young people, prevention of further unlawful detentions in Belarus and for the return of the detained students under the protection of the law that, in our opinion, is brutally violated in Belarus.

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Human Rights Center ZMINA
Center for Civil Liberties
Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
East SOS
Human Rights Education House
Association of UHRM
Media Initiative for Human Rights
CCE “Almenda”
Truth Hounds
NGO Docudays
CO “Charity and Health Found”
No Borders Project
Human Rights Vector NGO

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