In the Midst of Lions: Belarusian Activist Dzmiter Dashkevich Still Imprisoned

by Olivia Stransky    /  October 7, 2011  / No comments

Dzmiter Dashkevich. Photo from Radio Free Europe.

Belarusian youth group Young Front has released a plea to the international community to pressure President Lukashenko to release Dzmiter Dashkevich, imprisoned leader of the group. Dashkevich is currently being held in Correctional Institute No. 13 in Hlybokaye, Belarus on charges of “especially malicious hooliganism.” This prison is one of the harshest in the country, and like most of the prisons in Belarus it subjects prisoners to torture.

In this post Young Front presents concerns for Dashkevich’s safety including the fear that he will be assassinated. Other imprisoned activists face similar threats; the wife of opposition leader Andrey Sannikau has appealed to the First Ladies of Russia to intervene for the safety of prisoners like Sannikau and Dashkevich.

Below is a letter that Dashkevich wrote to his godmother Nataliya Yasevich on September 27th, translated by Young Front.

My dear mother,

Here I am in my new place of detention. I do not know what is going to happen to me here but it is not promising anything good. Now my only hope is God and that He will somehow free me from this place. Only if you could imagine how much I dream about being free from here….about how we would meet with each other and sit together in the garden by the barbecue… you have probably collected the harvest of this year by now.

I do not know if I had written to you before about it, but in my personal record you are written in as my mother. That allows you to meet with me for short meetings. It also allows for one long meeting (a long meeting is only allowed once a year), which would have to be considered in the most unfortunate case of me being held here for a long time.

Now I am thinking of writing a petition letter to allow me to have an operation done on the meniscus of my knee joint. If they approve it then I would be transported back to Minsk to Volodarskogo prison as the hospital that was previously based on Kal’variiskogo Street is now there.

Image from mfront.net

Every minute of every day I pray to come out of this place, so that I would be able to see my loved ones again – you ( Nataliya Yasevich), my brother( Zmiter Yasevich) , Nastya (Palajanka) and Leopol’dika. It would be so ecstatic to be able to hug you again and feel the warmth of your heart and to know that you always have thought about me and cared for me. I do not need anything else in this life to make me happy…. just to be close to you. I feel that I can not go without you for much longer, my strength is reducing….

It seems like there is no beginning and no end to this nightmare in which I live for these last few months. Taking a look back I can barely imagine how I could have previously managed to overcome it all…and even less I understand how I am going to go on…. Pray for me my darling; pray that I would return back to you soon as I cannot live like this anymore. These last 9 month have felt like 9 years of penal servitude. Shklov’s prison is nothing compared to what I have gone through here and through what I am still going through now. You know how strong I am inside and that it is impossible to break my spirit but here they have literally morally killed me here!!! I cannot even come to terms with this happening to me, from all of this my head is “cracking open”…. In direct and figurative sense…..

I better be finishing now as I do not want you to get even more worried

Image from mfront.net

that you are already with all this heart-breaking and painfully endless situation that I am in at present. You know, that I do not have anyone else out there in this world, who could have understood my pain better and I really wanted to talk to you even like this, though a letter.

I love you very, very, very much- you, Zmiter (Yasevich) and Natasha (Andriyanchik)!!!!!

I pray for you all and also send you my big, big hugs!!!

27/09/2011, 19.15 Dzmiter Dashkevich

Psalm 56:5
I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts —
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

About the Author

Olivia Stransky is an editorial assistant and video editor for Sampsonia Way. She received her B.A. in literature and film from Bard College at Simon’s Rock. While a student, she worked as the editor-in-chief of Glacial Erratic, Simon’s Rock’s literary and arts magazine. After graduating she received a grant to serve as a Fulbright Scholar in Slovakia, where she taught English literature and conversation at Univerzita Komenského in Bratislava.

View all articles by Olivia Stransky

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