Belarusian youth activist freed

The Belarusian youth activist, Zmitser Dashkevich, has been released early from Sklou prison in Belarus. Zmitser was the subject of a global Amnesty International action last year calling for his release.

In an interview shortly after his release, Zmitser said that he thought his early release was due to international pressure.

The first Zmitser’s friends knew about his release was when he phoned them from Sklou post office on Wednesday. He then made his way home alone by train. His parents had suspected that an early release might be possible when prison authorities rejected their last food parcel for him.

A leader of the Young Front, Zmitser Dashkevich was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for “organizing or participating in activities of an unregistered organization” in November 2006. He was due to be released on March 15.

Amnesty International considered him to be a prisoner of conscience. He became the subject of a global action during which Amnesty International members, youth groups and supporters sent over 10,000 origami cranes to the authorities.

A giant crane was created by Amnesty International youth members at the ICM in Mexico and sent to the Ministry of the Interior in Belarus, but the package was refused at the border. The crane was then sent to the local human rights NGO, Vyasna, who successfully delivered the crane to the Ministry.