Urgent Action: Children’s Hospice at Risk, Director Targeted (Belarus: UA 167.20)

November 30, 2020

Volha Vialichka, the director of the Belarusian Hrodna children’s hospice, is being targeted by the authorities following her role as an independent observer during the disputed August presidential elections in Belarus, and her public criticism of the authorities. The hospice, which provides vital care to terminally ill children, now risks closure as a result of the harassment of its director.

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TAKE ACTION:

  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
  2. Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 167.20. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Uladzimir Stsyapanavich Karanik
Head of the Hrodna Regional Executive Committee
Ul. Azheshka 3
Hrodna, 230023
Belarus
Fax: +375 152 720232
Email: [email protected]
Ambassador Dmitry Basik
Embassy of Belarus
1619 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington DC 20009
Phone: 202 986 9420 I Fax: 202 986 1805
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Mr. Karanik,

I am deeply concerned about the relentless harassment of Volha Vialichka in retaliation for her criticism of the authorities, targeting her and her family, but also the Hrodna children’s hospice of which she is the director. The hospice currently provides essential care that is not available anywhere else in Hrodna, including habilitative, psychological and social care, to 70 terminally ill children as well as crucial support to their parents. Volha Vialichka volunteered as an independent observer for the 9 August presidential elections. On 9 September Volha Vialichka was arrested while fundraising at a street charity event and spent 24 hours in detention. Shortly after, representatives from the school of her 14-year-old son requested to meet Volha Vialichka over their concerns about “family wellbeing” and Volha Vialichka’s son’s “home environment”. On 15 October, Volha Vialichka was fined for participating in the charity event under Part 1 of the article 23.34 of the Administrative Code of the Republic of Belarus.

Since September, the children’s hospice that Volha Vialichka is the director of, has also become a target. The hospice has been operating successfully and has fulfilled its financial obligations since 2008, and in March 2020 it went through a successful financial audit. Currently, the hospice’s operations have been halted in two of the three premises it uses. Since 29 September, the hospice’s staff have been banned from entering the premises of a state-run factory where they rented rooms to run a volunteer center. To date, the hospice staff have been unable to collect hospice property from the factory building that includes important medical equipment and documentation. On 22 October, the state-run Children’s Hospital No. 2 unexpectedly notified Volha Vialichka that the rental agreement for a number of rooms the hospice used to provide care to the children was being terminated. On the same date, the hospice management was visited by representatives from the Financial Investigations Department who seized the hospice’s laptop and documentation, and later launched an ongoing fraud investigation against Volha Vialichka.

I urge you to ensure that the harassment of Volha Vialichka stops and that the Hrodna children’s hospice can continue to provide essential medical care to terminally ill children as well as continue to support their families.

Yours sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES