#FreeViasna: News digest on imprisoned human rights defenders of Viasna
On September 17, dozens of Belarusian and international human rights groups launched #FreeViasna, the campaign of solidarity with the imprisoned human rights activists of Viasna. Here’s the latest news about the Viasna members held behind bars.
Solidarity events were held in a dozen countries on the day.
Numerous events were held yesterday in a dozen European countries to mark the launch of #FreeViasna, the international campaign of solidarity with imprisoned human rights activists of Viasna. Thousands staged pickets in France, Finland, Norway, Lithuania, Poland, Austria, Georgia, Ukraine, and other countries to express their support for Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich, Uladzimir Labkovich, Marfa Rabkova, Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa and Leanid Chapiuk.
Valiantsin Stefanovich’s family supports him
Alina Stefanovich, the wife of Viasna deputy chairman Valiantsin Stefanovich, took part in a press conference in the Lithuanian Seimas. She said that she had received only three letters from her husband in two months. She also took part in a solidarity rally in Batumi. During the event, she was holding a photo of Valiantsin.
In letters to his wife, Uladzimir Labkovich quotes Joseph Brodsky’s poems from memory
Nina Labkovich, the wife of Uladzimir Labkovich, shared news about her husband on her Facebook account:
“He quotes Brodsky’s poems from memory in his letters, writes a fairy tale to the children as a birthday present, and touching letters to his mother and daughter, his princess. He misses his family very much.”
As Nina notes, Uladzimir’s mood varies a lot: “From ‘tough as hell’ to ‘the day is over and it wasn’t that bad’. According to her, the family members only started receiving letters from him “more or less regularly’ a month ago. Only a third of the letters Nina send reach her husband, while he receives very little mail from friends, colleagues and just caring people.
Nina Labkovich urges to support her husband with letters:
“It is very difficult there without moral support. Write letters. This is prison oxygen!”
Leanid Sudalenka will mark 55 behind bars. Congratulate the human rights activist!
Leanid Sudalenka will turn 55 on September 23. Unfortunately, the human rights defender will mark his birthday in detention. Send your congratulations to Leanid at:
SIZO-3, 246003, Homieĺ, vul. Knižnaja, 1A
Leanid Leanidavich Sudalenka (Леаніду Леанідавічу Судаленку)
Two weeks ago, Sudalenka and his assistants, volunteers Tatsiana Lasitsa and Maryia Tarasenka were brought to court in Homieĺ to face a trial behind closed doors. The three are accused of “organizing actions that grossly violate public order” (Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code), and “preparing and training of persons to participate in such actions”, as well as their “financing or other material support” (Part 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code). Leanid was detained on January 18 and has been in custody since then.
Marfa Rabkova remains in custody for another 3 months
It’s been 12 months since Marfa was detained on September 17, 2020. She is charged with three criminal offenses and faces up to 12 years in prison.
Last week, the authorities ordered to extend Rabkova’s pre-trial detention by another 3 months, until December 17.
On the anniversary of Marfa’s imprisonment, Viasna’s volunteer service launched an interactive online board where anyone can leave a message for the imprisoned human rights activist.
Ales Bialiatski will also mark his birthday behind bars. Congratulate Ales!
Ales Bialiatski, the head of Viasna, will turn 59 on September 25, but he will mark his birthday in pre-trial detention.
Bialiatski’s family, colleagues and friends receive very few letters from him. It is known that Ales started writing a new one book, memoirs about his work in the Maksim Bahdanovich Literary Museum.
Send birthday wishes to Ales Bialiatski at:
SIZO-1, 220030, Minsk, vulica Valadarskaha, 2
Ales Bialiatski (Аляксандру Віктаравічу Бяляцкаму)
Ales Bialiatski was detained on July 14 and faced charges of “organizing actions that grossly violate public order” (Article 342 of the Criminal Code) and “tax evasion” (Article 243 of the Criminal Code).
Tatsiana Lasitsa’s friends told Viasna about the volunteer
Tanya’s friends call her an ‘angel’. They praise her kindness and sincerity. She is reliable and cares for others in the first place. Tanya knows how to support, they say.
There is no news about volunteer Andrei Chapiuk
Viasna volunteer Andrei Chapiuk was detained on October 2. He is being held in pre-trial prison No. 1 in Minsk. Unfortunately, human rights activists do not receive any news about him.
A poem in support of Viasna
An open letter with a poem in English was sent to email@example.com by AimeeE.
To our beloved human rights defenders,
I would like to THANK YOU. Like we say, not all superheroes wear capes.
THANK YOU for all the battles you have fought until now.
THANK YOU for being the voice of those who have been silenced.
THANK YOU for stepping forward when others step back in front of risks and
THANK YOU for all the sacrifices and bravery.
THANK YOU for believing that every single human deserves respect, dignity
THANK YOU for inspiring us to fight for justice no matter the obstacles.
THANK YOU for giving us hope to live in a better world.
THANK YOU for fighting for all of us.
Remember that one step back doesn’t mean you are defeated, it only means that
you are preparing to take two steps forward and never forget the reasons why you
have decided to fight for this noble cause.
Sending you and your loved ones lots of love and strength.
We love you.
Send your open letters of solidarity and support to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Telegram at @spring96info, and we will send them to the imprisoned members of Viasna. Some will be published on the website and our social media accounts.
Continue to write letters of solidarity to our colleagues in prison: