Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

Jailed opposition activist Syarhey Kavalenka resumes hunger strike, refuses to be force-fed

Jailed opposition activist Syarhey Kavalenka is said to be in critical condition after resuming his hunger strike and refusing to be force-fed, the Belarusian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said on February 11.

The service reported with reference to Mr. Kavalenka’s lawyer that the 37-year-old member of the Conservative Christian Party was refusing to be force-fed and his already ill health had further deteriorated. His relatives believe that his life is in danger.

Mr. Kavalenka started his fast on December 19, 2011, when he was arrested at his home and placed in a detention center. On January 16, the jail administration began force-feeding him through a tube. Afterward, he was said to be taking food voluntarily once a day for some time.

Alena Kavalenka, wife of the activist, has already had seven applications for a meeting with the husband rejected by the jail administration. According to the woman, authorities may have denied her a meeting with Mr. Kavalenka to prevent her from seeing how emaciated he is.

In May 2010, Mr. Kavalenka was given a three-year suspended prison sentence after creating a scandal by putting a white-red-white flag on top of Vitsyebsk’s tallest Christmas tree in early January 2010.

The opposition activist was arrested at home on a charge of violating probation rules four times and placed in the detention center in Vitsyebsk. He may have the suspension of his prison sentence revoked and sent to prison. His trial will take place on February 21.

The arrest of Mr. Kavalenka left his family without the breadwinner. His family includes his pregnant wife, two children, seven years and seven months of age, and his elderly mother.