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In Belarus, yellow tags single out political prisoners

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In Belarus, yellow tags single out political prisoners

by limited » Sat Jun 05, 2021 3:48 am

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While visiting her son in a Belarusian prison, Natallia Makavetskaya saw deep scars on his wrists left by tight handcuffs. She also noticed the yellow tag sewn onto his clothes.

The tags mark those jailed slotxo for joining demonstrations against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko and single them out for "particularly harsh prison conditions,” Makavetskaya told The Associated Press.

“They have decided that my son is prone to extremism and treated him accordingly,” she said in a telephone interview.

Her son, Uladzislau Makavetsky, was convicted in December of threatening a police officer with a truncheon during a clash between protesters and police in his hometown of Vitebsk, and was sentenced to two years in prison. He denied the charges, saying he was only trying to protect an elderly man who had been beaten by police, and he just tossed away a truncheon dropped by one of the officers.

Makavetsky told his mother that authorities at prison colony No. 22, located near Brest on the border with Poland, denied him any personal items or visitors for a time. During daily lineups, he was ordered to stand apart from other prisoners and say: “I'm prone to extremism.” Prisoners with yellow tags also get extensive regular searches.

The 28-year-old woodcarver was one of more than 35,000 people arrested in Belarus in a harsh crackdown on protests that followed Lukashenko's reelection to a sixth term in an August 2020 vote that was widely seen as rigged. Thousands were severely beaten by police.

The wide-ranging repression was spotlighted again on May 23, when a Ryanair flight traveling from Greece to Lithuania was diverted to Minsk where authorities arrested Raman Pratasevich, a dissident journalist who was aboard. He has been shown in several videos on state TV since his arrest, most recently Thursday night, tearfully repenting for his activities and praising Lukashenko in remarks that the opposition said were clearly made under duress.
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