Belarussian activist, antifascist and the singer of street punk band Mister Xâ Igor Bancer have been released from prison following a court verdict sentencing him to 18 months of forced labour. He has spent nearly 5 months under arrest prior to sentencing.
Bancer was arrested and subsequently charged with hooliganism on 20th October 2020. His âcrimeâ was a street performance involving dancing in front of a police car and showing his bare buttocks in front of it. However, the real reason behind his arrest and detention was his uncompromised opposition to the Belarussian dictatorial regime, his participation in the protests last year, and his long-term political activity. Igor is no stranger to state oppression and has been arrested multiple times in the past.
During his imprisonment, he has faced multiple repressions. His detention was unreasonably prolonged, and his trial postponed. He was also denied family visits and was barred from receiving parcels. Additionally, he was moved between multiple prisons and subjected to isolation, under the pretext of the Covid-19 pandemic, in each one of them. Despite this, Bancer kept demanding his basic rights. As punishment for that, he was sent to a psychiatric prison facility, where he refused medical consultation without the presence of a legal representative.
On 3rd March, to protest his detention and treatment, Bancer commenced a dry hunger strike, meaning that he refused both food and drink. In response to this action, the court intentionally delayed his trial date to, as Igor said, break him both physically and mentally. He was finally released due to his uncompromised attitude combined with an international solidarity campaign.
Currently, Bancer is recovering from his hunger strike and detention. He will however, have to serve 8 months of forced labour (with the remaining 10 months from his original sentence deducted due to the length of his pre-trial detention). Igor plans to appeal his sentence.
There are currently 288 political prisoners in pre-trial detention in Belarus, and multiple anarchists and antifascists are already serving their prison sentences or are awaiting their verdicts. We encourage you to follow the situation closely and express your solidarity. As can be seen from the example of Bancer, international attention can make a difference.
Solidarity is our weapon!
This text is a loose translation of the piece published in Polish by 161 Crew.
Image via Mister X.