Free Marfa!

Free Marfa!

Til: His Excellency Mr. Dmitry Mironchik

Marfa Rabkova has been unfairly imprisoned without access to adequate healthcare due to her participation in the peaceful 2020 protests in Belarus. The protests called for civil and political rights, and for this Marfa and many others have been unjustly arrested. Access to healthcare and female hygiene products is abysmal in both holding cells and prison. Marfa has developed several medical conditions that require testing and treatment from professionals which she has not been given. We hope you will sign this letter to His Excellency Mr. Dmitry Mironchik Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to the Kingdom of Norway in our demand for improved prison conditions and the release of Marfa! The letter will be sent to His Excellency with all the signatures the 25th of April.

The letter:

Your Excellency,

We are writing to express our concern for the imprisoned scholar Marfa Rabkova situation and the access to healthcare in Belarusian prisons.

Mrs. Rabkova was imprisoned in 2020 for her participation in the peaceful protests which called for civil and political rights. In 2022 she was sentenced behind closed doors to 15 years in a general security penal colony by the City Court of Minsk. The Supreme Court reduced her sentence to 14 years and nine months upon appeal. Mrs. Rabkova has received several charges including “malignant hooliganism” and “establishment of a criminal organization or its leadership”. The only violence used in these protests were from the police.

During her imprisonment Mrs. Rabkova has developed serious medical conditions. She is suffering from several medical conditions for which she has yet to receive proper examination and treatment for. Additionally, due to restrictions on dental healthcare Mrs. Rabkova has permanent tooth decay. This is contrary to international law and obligations of Belarus.

Furthermore, we want to raise concerns regarding access to healthcare for all women in Belarusian prisons and holding cells. Many women lack the necessary fundamental hygiene amenities and menstrual products as well as opportunities for personal hygiene, such as shower facilities. Additionally, women detainees frequently face barriers in obtaining sanitary products from external sources, exacerbating these hygienic challenges.

Mrs. Rabkova and all people in prison have the right to receive medical treatment. Belarus has ratified the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights thus it must comply with the Convention’s article 12 paragraph 1 which states that “the State Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”. The Convention’s Committee specified in General Comment No. 14 that states obligations to prisoners and detainees include refraining from denying or limiting equal access for them to preventive, curative and palliative health services. Furthermore, the Committee stated that “every human being is entitled to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health conducive to living a life in dignity”.

Based on these concerns, we humbly ask for your intervention in ensuring that:
Mrs. Rabkova receives immediate and necessary healthcare from professionals.
Mrs. Rabkova’s sentence is reconsidered and overturned resulting in her release.
Improved healthcare in prisons including access to sanitary products, showers and medical professionals.

Yours sincerely,

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