MPs from Germany and Austria take over godparenthood for Aliaksandr Babich, Viktar Barushka and Tatsiana Lasitsa
As part of the solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou of Libereco, Ottmar von Holtz (Bundestag, Alliance90/The Greens), Petra Bayr (National Council, SPÖ) and Gisela Manderla (Bundestag, CDU) have taken over a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Aliaksandr Babich is a resident of Brest. Aliaksandr is an entrepreneur. On December 23 he was sentenced to three and a half years under Article 363 (“resistance to a police officer”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code.
Ottmar von Holtz, spokesman for civil crisis prevention of the Alliance90/The Greens parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, has taken over the godparenthood for Aliaksandr Babich and stated: “Since August, peaceful demonstrators in Belarus have been fighting for their right to a democratic country. The regime has been using extreme violence against the demonstrators and is imprisoning them. The arrests are brutal and the conditions of detention are appalling. One of the arrested people is Aliaksandr Babich. He was sentenced one day before Christmas to three and a half years in a penal colony for resisting police officers. The sentence is clearly politically motivated and had no legal legitimacy. I demand his immediate release! I am very impressed by the Belarusian civil society, by people like Aliaksandr Babich. He is one of the many tireless fighters for a democratic Belarus. They will not be intimidated. The international community must put pressure on Lukashenka and support the democratic movement. Lukashenka’s regime must release him and the other political prisoners, come to terms with the atrocities and finally hold democratic elections!”
Viktar Barushka is a 32-year-old businessman. After his detention, he was badly beaten by riot police and spent 12 days in intensive care unit. He has been in custody since October 18, after he was detained during a Sunday protest. On January 27, he was sentenced to 5 years in a medium-security penal colony. During the trial, Barushka said that riot policemen beat him and used a truncheon to sexually assault him.
Petra Bayr, chairperson of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has taken over the godparenthood for Viktar Barushka and stated: “It pains me to hear what Mr Barushka had to endure. He was charged for a crime he himself became the victim of. As chairperson of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe I condemn every form of sexual and physical violence. What happened to Mr Barushka is not in accordance with a state based on the rule of law or good governance. To rob people from their human right to free expression, is not a sign of decent leadership. It is in fact a sign of an oppressive regime, not being able to respect dissenting opinions but detaining its citizens for political attitudes that are not in line with the potentates. All political prisoners in Belarus must be released immediately and their questionable detentions must undergo an international and independent thorough investigation.”
Tatsiana Lasitsa is a human rights activist for the Human Rights Center “Viasna”. Tatsiana was detained on January 21 at the Minsk airport by officers of the Interior Ministry. She is a suspect in a criminal case under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code for having disturbed public order.
Gisela Manderla, Member of the German Bundestag, has taken over the godparenthood for Tatsiana Lasitsa. On this occasion, Ms Manderla stated: “I call for the immediate release of the human rights activist Tatsiana Lasitsa. It is a legitimate right to stand up for human rights. Persecuting people who stand up for their rights is unacceptable and a violation of human rights. Therefore, the arrest of Ms Lasitsa should be classified as politically motivated.”