Week Against Death Penalty begins in Belarus

A series of events called Week Against Death Penalty began in Belarus on Friday.

The Week was expected to start with a rock concert at the Beatles club in Vitsyebsk to support the introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty.

A service will be held at the Virgin Mary Church in the village of Vishneva in the Valozhyn district, Minsk region, on October 6 to honor Saint Ambrose who was known for his opposition to executions, among other things.

A rock concert in support of a moratorium on the death penalty will be held at the Re:Public club in Minsk on October 7.

An American drama film titled The Stoning of Soraya M will be screened at the Punkt center in Minsk on October 8.

On October 9, a movie about the death penalty will be screened at the office of the Francisak Skaryna Belarusian Language Society in Homyel and at the Gnome cafe in Slutsk, Minsk region.

An exhibition of paintings depicting the suffering of death row inmates’ relatives and friends will go on display at the Lithuanian embassy in Minsk on October 10.

On the same day, a theatrical performance will be staged at Kola Center in Mahilyow to protest the death penalty.

In addition, Belarusian human rights defender Valyanstin Stefanovich will deliver a speech on the death penalty at a meeting of the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in Strasbourg on October 10.

Andrey Paluda, a coordinator of a group called “Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty in Belarus” told BelaPAN that no considerable steps had been taken in Belarus in the last 12 months to abolish the death penalty.

“People continue to be sentenced to death,” he said. “Two people have already been executed this year and four others are on death row and can be executed any time. We cannot say yet that the government hears and supports opponents of the death penalty.”

Mr. Paluda expressed hope that society would start demanding the abolition of the death penalty.

Belarus is the only country in Europe and the post-Soviet region where the death sentence remains a sentencing option and prisoners are executed.

More than 400 people have been sentenced to death and executed in Belarus since the country acquired independence in 1991. Alyaksandr Lukashenka is known to have pardoned only one death row inmate.