Here we quote the Facebook post of IT-specialis Hleb Rubanau from Minsk, who have participated in internet-flashmob “IAmExtremist” and was punished by 30-hours detention and fine.
“As you may know I live in non-democratic country. At the end of 2018 regime started new crackdown on freedom of speech. They started accusing people of “extremist posts in social networks”, which is punishable by heavy fines or (in theory) short-time arrest up to 15 days.
My friends Mikola Dziadok and Aliaxandr Dzianisau were punished with fines (typical case could be “antifashist picture with crossed swastika considered as nazi propaganda”, or critical antifaschist publication punished as extremism because it included the illustrative photo of people wearing prohibited symbols of ultra-right group, or something like that).
In response, Mikola Dziadok started a campaign of civil disobedience, called “#IAmExtremist” (#Яэкстремист), asking people to post “extremist” materials to protest against the “anti-extremist” law (which is just a tool of censorship). Regime predictably reacted with more trials and fines. I was on the radars too.
This Tuesday (May, 7th), at 4.30 am police called to my landphone and asked to go out and check the “car possibly damaged by vandal”. I’d not care about car, but they told I have to confirm there’s no damage and no accusations against some (virtual) person detained and suspected in vandalism.
As I arrived on scene, they detained me and put in jail for 30 hours, “as a measure to ensure my participation in trial for extremism”, which was scheduled for 11.00am wednesday.
I am not eligible for the “arrest as a punishment”, as I look after mother with disabilities. Nevertheless, I can be (formally) “detained until trial” (up to 72 hours), which they exactly did, despite the fact that I did not refuse to appear in court and explicitly requested them for written subpoena, which makes detention unnecessary unless I am obviously hiding. I also informed them about my mother condition and the existence of 4-years-old kid, as they are obliged (in theory) to take into account the social situation, when making the choice between detention and subpoena.
During detention, my rights to make written appeals were several times rejected or obstructed.
During transfer from police station to the jail police tried to make a video record of my face, with the intent of submitting the data into automated system of faces identification. I successfully refused the controversial procedure as something I am not legally obliged to do (it took only 15-20 minutes of hot dispute 🙂 ).
When I was transferred to jail from the police station around 1pm, me and two other detainees were told that we’ll only receive food next day, because of late transfer. For the same reason our families are not allowed to deliver food for us until next day. This effectively meant me and other guys will have no food for more than 24 hours (since tuesday night until wednesday morning). I informed them that this situation formally looks like cruel treatment and may be qualified as torture, prohibited by international conventions. In protest I declared a one-day hungerstrike until supposed trial. In the evening they tried to provide us some food “semi-oficially”, but I politely refused.
Later in the evening I discovered several insects on my matress and informed the jail personnel of the situation, demanding some mitigation actions. No action was taken, so around midnight I informed the personnel that I refuse to sleep on potentially infected matress and therefore have no place to sleep and will be staying/sitting all night. This verbal information was accepted without reaction, written appeal was only accepted in the morning despite multiple requests. I also declared this is a potentially “cruel/torture” situation.
At around 11am wednesday I was delivered to court… and set free. No trial happened, I was given an official subpoena to appear for trial on Thursday May 16. This paper was exactly the document I proposed the police officer to give me at 4.45 am Tuesday instead of 30-hours detention.
So I consider this story as an unjustified repressive action with the intent of spreading fear among “usual people” who are openly criticizing the regime and/or are sympathizing the public civil rights activists. However, I do not suffer and am considering the current situation as a tactic victory — I was able to use all available non-violent resistance methods with maximum possible effect. My plan is to dismiss the case completely on May 16th trial (despite courts are pro-regime, sometimes they dismiss obviously staged and/or too badly faked cases).
My physical condition is fine, and I must admit that no physical violence happened. Some media distributed quite scaring photo of me which looks like I was severely beaten. It’s not the case, I was just looking naturally badly due to 30 hours without eat and sleeping, plus had a bruise on my nose which was existing prior to the arrest. So, if you see this photo, I’d be thankful for not sharing it without context (or, better, not sharing at all).
I will continue to struggle for my civil rights with all possible non-violent methods, and will inform you of the news.
Thanks a lot for your support!”
At May, 13, Hleb Rubanau was fined on around 370 euro for his comment on Mikola’s Dziadok Facebook page. He have posted a link in his comment, and the preview of his link contained “ACAB” abbreviation. This abbreviation is officially banned in Belarus as an “extremist materials”.
With no doubt, this all case was created and inspired by GUBOPiK (Belarusian anti-extremist police) to show that even “common people” (Hleb Rubanau is not an activist), who support the #IAmExtremist flashmob, will be found and punished.