Director of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Sergey Drozdovsky and its lawyer Oleg Grablevsky were unable to make a scheduled appearance at the EDF Board on 8 March 2020 to discuss cooperation between the European disability movement and Belarus due to their continued detention in Minsk based on unfounded and arbitrary accusations.
Their persecution that started on 21 January with a raid of the organisation’s office and confiscation of its property escalated on 2 February when Mr Drozdovsky and Mr Grablevsky were interrogated at the Department of Financial Investigations of Belarus with violations of their procedural rights, and subsequently detained. As of 8 March, both activists were being held incommunicado: Oleg Grablevsky in a pre-trial detention centre in Minsk, and Sergey Drozdovsky, who is a person with a disability, under house arrest.
In early February, EDF expressed its grave concern at the detention of Mr Drozdovsky and Mr Grablevsky and called for their immediate release and an end to intimidation of civil society representatives in Belarus.
Today, EDF reiterates its support to the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and extends its friendship to the disability community of Belarus.
EDF firmly underlines that the situation is particularly damaging to the whole Belarusian disability community for whom the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been an invaluable resource of advice, counsel and support. While Sergey Drozdovsky and Oleg Grablevsky remain in detaintion, and the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can’t continue their work, it’s the persons with disabilities of Belarus who suffer the consequences.
The Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a non-governmental organisation whose mission is to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is a leading Belarusian organisation that provides information, advice and legal representation to Belarusians with disabilities on their human rights and freedoms. The Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was instrumental in advocating for the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and a key partner of the Belarusian government in many legislative and policy reforms.
Imenamag (2021): The right people. Why the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is needed in Belarus