Women’s Hunger Strike in Belarus Protests Harsh Anti-Marijuana Laws

More than a dozen Belarusian ladies have participated in a starvation strike for 10 days, hoping for the discharge of their sons, husbands, grandsons, and different kinfolk from imprisonment or drug-related costs.

The “Mothers 328,” named after Article 328 of the Belarusian Criminal Code, started fasting Friday, April 26, 2018,  in Kalinkavichy and Ostrov to protest Belarus’ harsh drug legal guidelines. Relatives of the ladies have jail sentences of 5 to 25 years.

The ladies need to meet with Belarusian President of Alexander Lukashenko. They name the strike “a step of desperation.”

On Thursday, April 25, 2018, the day earlier than the protest started, the starvation strikers handed their appeals to the town government committee, which was forwarded to Prosecutor-General Alyaksandr Kanyuk’s workplace.

Belarus’ drug warfare

Belarus was as soon as a Soviet Union republic, although the nation has shied away from Russia since its annexation of Crimea in 2014. Despite displaying indicators of aligning with the European Union — releasing political prisoners, abandoning a extremely unpopular “parasite tax” on unemployed residents — Belarus maintains robust anti-drug legal guidelines.

This is partially attributed to harsh drug legal guidelines and Soviet-era anti-cannabis propaganda from Lukashenko’s authorities. Lukashenko is the primary, and solely, President of Belarus, having served 5 phrases because the passage of the post-Soviet Union Constitution in 1994. Lukashenko’s authoritarian system of presidency is described by British writer and journalist Peter Pomerantsev because the   “last dictatorship in Europe.”

Belarus’ penal code has no distinction between classes of medicine, which means possession of hashish and heroin are prosecuted with the identical penalties. According to Legalize Belarus, a youth-led marketing campaign to finish Belarus’ drug struggle, greater than 15,000 individuals have been imprisoned for drug-related crimes, many for minor hashish possession ensuing in five- to eight-year jail sentences.

Such petty possession instances see Belarusian prosecutors push for trafficking costs that assure a minimal jail sentence of 5 years. According to Legalize Belarus, possession of 5 grams of hashish permits accused offenders to be charged with  “intention to distribute.” The Belarusian judiciary has additionally been referred to as into query by kin of the convicted for its lack of transparency in its investigations, weak proof, and merciless courtroom proceedings.

According to Aliena Krasoŭskaja, who heads the Belarusian human-rights group Region 119, the courts are judging in accordance with considerably current laws.

In 2014, after a January poppy seed ban resulted in a discount in opiate consumption, Belarus noticed a rise in artificial drug use. Also referred to as “spice,” these artificial medicine have  triggered a spike in overdoses and drug-related deaths. In December 2014, the Lukashenka administration responded with a decree that raised the utmost sentence for drug trafficking to 25 years and lowered the felony legal responsibility age to 14.

In response to what opponents name the oppressive nature and widespread attain of Lukashenko’s decree, human rights advocates are preventing for even modest reconsiderations of Belarus’ strict legal guidelines.

Hunger strikes proceed  

Seven of the starvation strikers met with presidential envoy Natallya Kahanava on Wednesday, May 2, 2018,  to advocate for extra lenient sentences for each their relations and the general public at giant. A spokesperson for the motion reported that by the sixth day, the moms have been starting to really feel the complete results of hunger — irregular blood strain, shortness of breath, dizziness, based on Euroradio.fm

Hunger strikers have been scheduled to satisfy with Prosecutor-General Alyaksandr Kanyuk two days later, however the assembly was canceled abruptly.

The following day, an ambulance visited the seven starvation strikers in Kalinkavichy, who reported that they continued to really feel ailing with critically low blood sugar ranges. Liudzmila Pimenauskaya, a 66-year-old lady who took half in the strike for her grandson, determined to cease the starvation strike for health-related causes, and was taken residence by relations.

Lukashenko’s administration didn’t touch upon the matter, and no additional conferences have been scheduled.

The ladies proceed their starvation strike.


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