Conscientious objectors Ivan Mikhailov and Dzmitry Smyk
Use this form to send the letter below to the relevant authority (Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus). You can add your own notes in a separate box after the standard text, if you wish. You must include a name, address, and email address; a copy will be sent to you with a cc to the WRI office (so we have a record of how many email letters have been sent out for this particular case).
Dear President Alexander Lukashenko
I am very concerned about the sentencing of conscientious objectors Ivan Mikhailov and Dzmitry Smyk. Ivan Mikhailov, a Messianic Jew, was sentenced to three months imprisonment on 1 February 2010. Dzmitry Smyk, a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses from the city of Gomel, was sentenced to a fine of 3,500,000 Belarusian roubles in November 2009.
The right to conscientious objection is enshrined in Article 57 of the 1994 Constitution, according to which: "Procedures regulating military service, and the grounds or conditions for exemption from military service or its replacement by alternative service, shall be further regulated by law". No further legislation on conscientious objection has ever been introduced, in violation of the constitution of the Republic of Belarus, and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The trial and a subsequent prison sentence is a violation of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the right to conscientious objection.
Belarus is a party to the ICCPR. As such, it is bound by the standards set out in the Covenant. I want to bring to your attention the decision of the Human Rights Committee on two cases of conscientious objectors from South Korea. In its decision, the Committee clarifies that not to provide for the right to conscientious objection is a violation of Article 18 of the ICCPR (CCPR/C/88/D/1321-1322/2004, 23 January 2007). This also applies to Belarus.
I therefore urge you to immediately drop all charges against conscientious objectors, to immediately release Ivan Mikhailov, and to follow the UN recommendations. I urge you to respect human rights.