“Every action by Ihar will be accompanied by my action”. Why is Daria Losik story more than just a blogger’s wife?
Daria Losik is a political prisoner, the wife of political prisoner blogger Ihar Losik, sentenced to 15 years in a high-security detention colony. Almost two months ago she was also detained, previously known to have been accused of “promoting extremist activities”: formally, the reason for this was her interview to the Belsat news agency. Their four-year-old daughter Paulina stayed with her grandmother.
However, Daria is not just “Ihar Losik’s wife”. She is a brave woman who stood up for her and her husband’s rights, even when it seemed impossible. She has used a number of means to do this.
The formal reason for Daria’s detention was her interview to Belsat TV channel, which is recognised as an “extremist organisation” in Belarus. While the Darya was free, she never kept silent and tried to make public information about her husband’s situation – his two hunger strikes, his suicide attempt, as well as the attempts of the psychologist at the detention facility to encourage Ihar to make a new attempt to end his life. She saw the publication as a way to draw attention to the situation of political prisoners as well as to motivate people to support them.
Daria Losik also openly appealed to Alexander Lukashenko. She offered him to exchange herself for her husband, and if there was no reaction to this, to meet him. In the video she offered Lukashenka to meet and prove that he is not a coward: “You can put me in one of your tinted minibuses, put a gun to my temple and take me wherever you want with complete anonymity. What are you afraid of?”
In her messages, Daria appealed to Articles 33 and 35 of the Constitution, which guarantee to every citizen not only freedom of opinion and belief, including its dissemination, but also freedom of peaceful assembly. It was for the exercise of these rights that Daria was arbitrarily detained. They are also guaranteed by Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the State had not yet denounced at the time of Daria’s detention. Thus, by detaining her without grounds, the authorities violated not only the country’s Constitution but also international agreements.
A hunger strike in solidarity
When Ihar Losik went on hunger strike in December 2020 to protest against the new criminal charges, Daria Losik joined her husband’s hunger strike. After meeting with her husband, she became convinced: “Ihar says that every arrest of his at “Shizo” will be followed by action on his part. And let me put it this way – every action on Ihar’s part will be supported by my action”.
However, the hunger strike is not just a sign of solidarity with the husband. It is an important but very powerful tool for drawing attention to a problem in a context of limited opportunities, when nothing else helps to get justice. After announcing the hunger strike, Daria was not only close to her husband, but several times more focused on the situation.
Ihar Losik’s trial was closed: that is, no one was allowed into the courtroom. But in order to be near her husband, she came to the building of Gomel pre-trial detention center where her husband was tried every day and sat on the bench. On the first day of such «duty», diplomats from the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom came to support her: this is how Daria gained publicity and support at the international level through her actions.
She was threatened with detention but continued to remain near the court. This can be considered as an exercise of the right to peaceful assembly, as individual pickets of this type also fall under Article 35 of the Constitution, as well as Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This could also include Daria walking around the town of Baranovichi wearing a denim jacket with a portrait of Ihar on the back.
In addition to loud public actions, Daria has also used legal tools and has even had some success. For example, when she was not informed which prison centre her husband had been transferred to after his trial, she wrote a complaint against the head of the Department of Corrections of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and was then informed of her husband’s current location.
Also during Ihar’s hunger strike, she collected personal guarantees for her husband – for example, two priests sent them to the Investigative Committee. There is no further mention in the public space of what other legal means she used, but it can be assumed that she did not limit herself to the listed series.
Support from behind bars
And even from behind bars, Daria shares a ray of her courage, expressing support for those who remain free. “Don’t worry about me too much. Everything remains the same, I’m just on the other side of it all now. Hugs!” – A postcard with this text came from Daria on 27 October. Given Daria’s active stance at large, her arrest caused a rush of excitement among European diplomats. Thus, Ihar Losik’s symbolic godfather also took care of Daria two days after her arrest.
In doing so, Daria Losik was not afraid to bring her husband’s detention to the world’s attention, while expressing her strong personal character. She is now behind bars for her position.
The Belarusian National Youth Council RADA will send a special appeal to specialized human rights institutions in order to draw attention to the continuing lawlessness in Belarus and to release Daria Losik as soon as possible