Human rights defender’s profile: Olga Karach from Belarus


My name is Olga Karach and I am the Chief
of the International Center for civil intitiatives OUR HOUSE. This is a grassroots human rights
Organisation based in Bealarus and we started being active in 2005. I started to be active
quite a long time ago and I was a student at Teachers University and we had a group
of students who tried to change the world of course no less. And we were very active
but much with literature and social cohesion and we didn’t think about human rights defence
but suddenly we started to understand that you need more air. You know and it was a question
about boarders. My private boarders. How far can the State go and for me when I started
to be active for me it was the question number one. The question about my personality and
question about our relationship between me and the State and the different State bodies.
Where is the red line and where can I say stop. Because women human rights defenders
have the pressure from State but also from their communities, from their relatives who
are also affected by their activities. And we would like to break the isolation and we
would like to give new power and new energy for the women because we need the women to
change Belarus to a better side. If you speak about myself maybe the most horrible time
was in 2011 when I was arrested under suspicion of Terrorism and I was beaten by Police in
the Police station and I got a lot of sexua harassment and the main question was that
in Belarus for terrorism it is a death penalty. It is quite a huge pressure for your mind
and we went from the prison I understood that for me I should find any sense against me.
And I found it. I decided that we need to stop such kid of violence on us. We are fighting
for the amnesty of children prisoners. We have a quite strange situation in Belarus
since 2014, 14 to 18 teenagers and youngsters, were detained for 8 to 15 years of prison
just for very small drug issues. For exemple 0,12 grams of Marijuana. And I’m quite sure
again that we can release the children this year or until the next August. If you speak
about Belarus of course, it is something about the same rules. Of game. For everybody. If
you speak about human rights it is the same. We have no independent Court, we have no independent
lawyers in Belarus. We have no independent prosecutor department. And for us, what I
would like to achieve in the future, we really would like to create more space, for people
to be themselves. And again to say no to the government.

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