#WeStandBYyou: New godparents for Belarusian political prisoners
As part of the solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou of Libereco, Hildegard Bentele (European Parliament, CDU), Monika Hohlmeier (European Parliament, CSU/CDU), Mathias Stein (Bundestag, SPD), Oliver Kaczmarek (Bundestag, SPD), Christine Crawley (House of Lords, Labour Party) and Wendy Chamberlain (House of Commons, Liberal Democrats) have taken over a godparenthood for Belarusian political prisoners.
Yan Falkin was detained on September 30. His apartment was searched, during which a laptop, a mobile phone and a walkie-talkie were confiscated. Yan was charged under Article 293 of the Belarusian Criminal Code (“participation in mass riots”).
Hildegard Bentele, member of the European Parliament, has taken over the godparenthood for Yan Falkin and stated: “I am very concerned about the ongoing oppression of Belarussians who ask for their legitimate right to decide about their destiny in free and democratic elections. I demand the end of violence exercised by the illegitimate regime of M. Lukashenka and the immediate release of political prisoners like Yan Falkin who was arrested on 30 september 2020 and is charged under Part 2 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code (participation in riots).”
Iryna Shchasnaya was detained on June 29 and charged under Article 293 of the Belarusian Criminal Code (“participation in mass riots”).
Monika Hohlmeier, member of the European Parliament, has taken over the godparenthood for Iryna Shchasnaya and stated: “In the peaceful struggle for democracy, thousands of brave women and men in Belarus are resolutely defying the brutal regime of dictator Lukashenka. Iryna Shchasnaya is one of these fearless and brave fighters. She has my deepest respect for her courage as a young mother to stand up for the freedom of demonstration and for the future of her country as a caretaker of various Telegram channels despite all the dangers. After a politically motivated and unlawful search, Iryna Shchasnaya was subjected to arbitrary charges and arrested in November in front of her son. As Iryna Shchasnaya’s godparent, I demand her immediate and unconditional release. Violence against peaceful protesters, the suppression of freedom of expression and assembly and the imprisonment of innocent citizens in Belarus must end immediately.”
Tsimur Ryzapur was detained on September 30 and accused of participating in mass riots on August 10 in Brest. The 37-year-old taxi driver was returning home from work on the evening of August 10, when he was shot with rubber bullets five times. Tsimur is held in pre-trial detention. The investigator explains his choice of pre-trial detention by the fact that Tsimur Ryzapur does not have a Belarusian citizenship, despite the fact that he has a residence permit and has been living in Belarus for about 23 years.
Mathias Stein, member of the German Bundestag, has taken over the godparenthood for Tsimur Ryzapur. On this occasion Mr Stein stated: “Respect for human rights, free elections and the rule of law are the cornerstones of democracy. We stand firmly and in solidarity with the people of Belarus and demand the release of all protesters and activists who have been illegally detained and held as prisoners. Tsimur Ryzapur, whose godparenthood I have taken over, has also been held in pre-trial detention since 30 September 2020 for allegedly taking part in an unauthorised rally. The injustice, violence and oppression of the Belarusian people must end. Tsimur must be released!”
Viktoryia Hrankouskaya is a former student of the Belarusian National Technical University. She was expelled during the autumn protests in Belarus. Viktoryia was detained on November 12 as part of a criminal case under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code for having disturbed public order.
Oliver Kaczmarek, Member of the German Bundestag and Deputy Chairman for the German-Belarusian Parliamentary Group, has taken over the godparenthood for Viktoryia Hrankouskaya and stated: “Viktoryia Hrankouskaya is one of the many people in Belarus who have been innocently imprisoned for months because of their peaceful protest against electoral fraud, violence and the regime of Alexander Lukashenka. To support the efforts to free Viktoryia Hrankouskaya, I have taken over the godparenthood for her. I demand that the student is released permanently. My other demands are clear: the release of all political prisoners, an immediate end to violence and repression against civil society, organisations and the media, and free and fair new elections.”
Dzmitry Zheburtovich was detained on October 7. He was taken to the police department, where he was beaten. Dzmitry’s apartment was searched the same day, and his computer, phone and other items were confiscated. He is charged under Article 293 (“participation in mass riots”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code.
Baroness Christine Crawley, member of the British House of Lords, has taken over the godparenthood for Dzmitry Zheburtovich and stated: “I am very concerned for the safety of Dzmitry Zheburtovich. This young man was beaten and detained at Akrescin Street Detention Centre, on his way to the shops, on October 7th 2020 and is being held against his will. I call on the authorities in Belarus to release Dzmitry Zheburtovich without delay and to recognise that they cannot continue crushing freedom of expression and criminalising their citizens.”
Pavel Drozd was detained on November 3 on suspicion of hacking the computer network of the Minsk City Executive Committee and on suspicion of committing acts that grossly violate public order. He was later charged under these articles of the Belarusian Criminal Code (Article 349 and Article 342).
Wendy Chamberlain, member of the British House of Commons, has taken over the godparenthood for Pavel Drozd. On this occasion Ms Chamberlain stated: “I was extremely concerned by the elections in Belarus last year, and the violent repression of peaceful protestors which followed was a violation of people’s rights and freedoms. Many of these protestors have been wrongly arrested and charged. Pavel Drozd is one such protestor, a 34 year old Belarusian man who was arrested on 3 November 2020 for alleged computer hacking. He was charged with the following: Art. 342 of the Criminal Code – Organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them. Art. 349 of the Criminal Code – Unauthorized access to computer information. He is now being held in Pre-trial detention centre No. 8. I am following the lead of parliamentarians across Europe by “adopting” Pavel, and I am calling on the Belarusian government to secure Pavel’s release from prison. No one should be punished for taking part in peaceful protest, especially in defence of democracy.”