#WeStandBYyou: New godparents for political prisoners in Belarus
As part of the solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou of Libereco, Gregor Gysi (The Left), Gabriela Heinrich (SPD), Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP), Tomasz Frankowski (PO), Frank Junge (SPD) and Ingmar Jung (CDU) have taken over a godparenthood for political prisoners Yauhen Kakhanouski, Yahor Suhoidz, Aliaksandr Kisialiou, Maryia Kalenik, Ihar Prazhennikau and Pavel Niadbaila.
Yauhen Kakhanouski was detained on August 27. In a forced video confession, he admitted to have participated in riots. Kakhanouski has been charged under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code for having disturbed public order.
Gregor Gysi, member of the German Bundestag, has taken over the godparenthood for Yauhen Kakhanouski and stated: “Political prisoners like Yauhen Kakhanouski must be released. The time of the power structure of an authoritarian president is over. The longing for democracy and freedom cannot be overcome. All sides of society must then find a common path for their country – perhaps like at the round tables in the GDR.”
On August 9, Yahor Suhoidz and his friends joined a protest against the results of the presidential elections. During the protest, he jumped onto a police van and fell from there while it was driving at full speed. He was also beaten by riot police and then detained on suspicion of taking part in mass riots under Article 293 of the Belarusian Criminal Code.
Gabriela Heinrich, Member of the German Bundestag and Deputy Member of the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid, has taken over the godparenthood for Yahor Suhoidz and stated: “Four months ago, the Lukashenka regime rigged the presidential elections in Belarus. Since then, thousands of courageous Belarusians have been protesting peacefully for their basic rights. Rights that should actually be taken for granted. Instead of talking to the demonstrators, Lukashenka reacts with repression and violence. Thousands of opposition activists are still unjustly imprisoned. Among them is Yahor Suhoidz, who is accused of having taken part in mass riots. I express my full solidarity with him and all political prisoners and opposition activists. I call on Alexander Lukashenka to release Yahor Suhoidz and all other political prisoners immediately! Belarus needs a new start – this path does not lead through repression, but through dialogue.”
Aliaksandr Kisialiou was detained and convicted for participating in a peaceful protest on the night of August 11-12. He was not released after the arrest and charged under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code for having disturbed public order.
Bettina Stark-Watzinger, Member of the German Bundestag, has taken over the godparenthood for Aliaksandr Kisialiou. On this occasion Ms Stark-Watzinger stated: “The events in Belarus show that human rights can not be taken for granted, even in Europe. The courage of the peaceful demonstrators who demonstrate on the streets for freedom and democracy is admirable. Even more because they have to reckon with being arrested and put in prison at any moment. One of them is 18-year-old Aliaksandr Kisialiou from Žlobin. We call out to him and to all supporters of the movement: You are not alone – Europe is looking at Belarus. I demand the immediate release of all political prisoners!”
Maryia Kalenik is a student at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts. She was detained on November 12 as part of a criminal case under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code for having disturbed public order.
Tomasz Frankowski, member of the European Parliament, the Delegation for relations with Belarus and the Culture and Education Committee, has taken over a godparenthood for Maryia Kalenik and stated: “As a Member of the Culture and Education Committee in the European Parliament I am particularly concerned by the situation of young people in Belarus, which includes a large number of the students detained. I am calling for the immediate and unconditional release and dropping of charges against all arrested students, including Maryia Kalenik.”
Ihar Prazhennikau was detained on October 4 during the March for the Release of Political Prisoners. He was not released after a 13-day term of detention. The man is charged under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code for having disturbed public order.
Frank Junge, member of the German Bundestag, has taken over a godparenthood for Ihar Prazhennikau and stated: “The citizens of Belarus were protesting peacefully against the results of the August 9th presidential elections. The elections were neither democratic, nor fair and free. However, they were wrongfully imprisoned for doing so and still remain in custody, without the chance to a free and fair trial. I personally took over the godparenthood for Ihar Prazhennikau, who was imprisoned on the 4th of October. He is a political prisoner, only because he was protesting for free and fair elections in Belarus. I demand that the Belarusian government immediately releases Ihar and all other political prisoners. The idea of Europe stands on the foundation of free speech, fair elections and the rule of law. Alexander Lukaschenka and the whole Belarusian government should abide by that.”
Pavel Niadbaila was detained on September 29 and charged under Article 293 (“participation in mass riots) of the Belarusian Criminal Code.
Ingmar Jung, Member of the German Bundestag, has taken over the godparenthood for Pavel Niadbaila. On this occasion Mr Jung stated: “Fairness and justice are values that have always been very important to me and also drive me in my political work. I admire the courage and the will of the people in Belarus to demonstrate on the streets for free and fair elections and to oppose the regime, despite the fact that they are threatened with imprisonment and long prison sentences. I want to assure the people of Belarus that they are not alone. We parliamentarians in the German Bundestag follow their courageous protest and do not look away when injustice is done to them. That is why I have taken over the godparenthood for the political prisoner Pavel Niadbaila and will campaign for his release.”