Urge Belarus to Forego Capital Punishment


Target: President Alyaksandr Lukashenka

Goal: Do away with capital punishment and commute death-row inmates’ sentences into life imprisonment

Pavel Selyun, a death-row inmate in Belarus, is in the process of applying for presidential clemency. Sign the petition and urge the president of Belarus to grant Selyun’s request and to do away with capital punishment entirely.

Selyun has been accused and convicted of killing his wife and her lover. He was found guilty of “murder of two or more people with particular cruelty,” “robbery,” “mutilation of corpse or grave,” and “theft of personal documents,” Amnesty International reports. His mother suspects he may be suicidal. No one is arguing that Selyun is an innocent victim of a false accusation or an unfair legal process–the case appears to have been fairly cut-and-dry. So why care about his execution? Isn’t it what should happen?

The answer is an unequivocal no. Certainly, the murder of Selyun’s wife and her lover at Selyun’s own hand is a tragic, horrific loss of life. Any loss of life is a tragedy. If we as a society condemn the taking of another human life by an angry, jealous man, how can we endorse state-sponsored killing? The death penalty is hypocritical and reflects poorly on governments that endorse it.

Furthermore, Belarus’ approach to capital punishment is inhumane. Prisoners may not know when their execution is occurring until just moments before. Death occurs by a bullet to the back of the head, and sometimes more than one shot is required. The body is not released to the family following the execution, and the burial place is not disclosed to them, either. These last two conditions cause particular distress to inmates’ families, which is completely unnecessary and cruel; imagine the trauma and inner turmoil that must accompany the knowledge that a loved one has committed an unspeakable act and will die for it. Is it really necessary to deny a grieving, blameless family the closure of a funeral service or a marked burial site, if that is what they want?

The death penalty is one of the remaining vestiges of a much darker, more barbaric time in human history. Sign the petition and urge Belarus to do the right thing: commute Pavel Selyun’s sentence and the death sentences of all other inmates to life imprisonment, and take steps toward a complete rejection of the death penalty.


Dear President Lukashenka,

Capital punishment is one of the remaining vestiges of a much darker, more barbaric time in human history, and it must be done away with. The impending execution of Pavel Selyun makes this issue particularly time-sensitive. I request that you grant Selyun–and all other death-row inmates–clemency, and I urge you to do away with the death penalty completely.

Aside from the hypocrisy and inhumanity of condemning another human being to death for the (admittedly horrific) crime of killing another person, Belarus’s procedure for capital punishment is particularly cruel. Death-row inmates may not know when their execution is occurring until moments beforehand, and the method of execution–a shot to the back of the head–sometimes requires more than one attempt to get the job done.

Most upsetting is that the body of the executed inmate is not returned to the custody of his or her family, nor is the family informed of their loved one’s burial place. This procedure has no impact on the deceased criminal but instead inexplicably imposes punitive measure on his or her innocent and grieving family members. The trauma of knowing a loved one has committed an unspeakably horrific act is certainly bad enough–why does the state deny family members the closure of a funeral service and a marked burial place?

Belarus must do the right thing–the just thing–and end capital punishment.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Andreas-photography via Flickr

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