By Heather McGill, Amnesty International’ researcher on Belarus
I met with Colonel Oleg Alkaev in Berlin in October 2008. He had been the Director of remand prison (SIZO)6 No.1 in Minsk between 1996 and 2001. In this capacity he was in charge of a shooting squad of 13 men.He published a book to describe his experience in 2006.
We recorded a video interview with Colonel Oleg Alkaev in 2008. It was a chilling experience to hear him talk about the suffering he had witnessed and the practice of the death penalty.
His words in this video paint a stark picture of state killing in Belarus. Listen to him describe how prisoners did not know they were about to be executed and how mothers of death row inmates went looking for their sons—not knowing they were already dead.
Prisoners on death row in Belarus are told that they will be executed only moments before the sentence is carried out. They are executed by a shot to the back of the head. Sometimes more than one bullet is needed. The suffering and distress that is inflicted on the families of condemned prisoners by the death penalty is amplified by the secrecy that surrounds executions.
This year, we are joining with Belarusian NGO Human Rights Centre “Viasna” in a petition calling on the President of Belarus to end the death penalty in the country. Belarus is the last country in Europe and the former Soviet Union to still carry out executions!
We are collecting as many signatures as we can around the World Day Against the Death Penalty on 10 October, so that Viasna can deliver a powerful message to the Belarusian authorities. The World Day Against the Death Penalty is just around the corner so sign our petition and start spreading the word!