Stand up for human rights defenders! Sign the petition for the release of “Viasna” members.
The Human Rights Center “Viasna” celebrated its 25th anniversary in spring. At the moment, seven members of Viasna remain behind bars for their peaceful human rights activities. Sign the petition for their release!
Over its 25-year history, the Human Rights Center “Viasna” has been repeatedly targeted by the Belarusian authorities, as human rights defenders faced pressure and intimidation for helping people defend their rights and interests. After the presidential election-2020, the situation has worsened.
Marfa Rabkova, the coordinator of the Viasna Volunteer Service, was detained first. This happened on September 17, 2020. Since then, she has been kept in prison, her health has deteriorated. Even when her father and grandmother died, Martha was not allowed to attend their funeral. Last week human defenders learned that Martha was charged under 11 articles of the Criminal Code.
Andrei Chapiuk, “Viasna” volunteer detained on October 2, 2020, is being accused in the same case as Marfa Rabkova.
On January 18, 2021, the Head of the Homieĺ office of “Viasna” Leanid Sudalenka, as well as his assistant Maryia Tarasenka were detained. Maryia was released 72 hours later, having signed a pledge of secrecy. On January 21, 2021, another “Viasna” volunteer from Rečyca, Tatsiana Lasitsa, was detained at the airport. Leanid and Tatsiana were accused of organizing actions that grossly violate public order (part 1 of article 342 of the Criminal Code), training other people to participate in such actions, as well as financing those actions (part 2 of article 342 of the Criminal Code). As a result, on November 3, 2021, Leanid Sudalenka was sentenced to three years in prison and Tatsiana Lasitsa — to two and a half years in prison.
Two massive attacks on independent media and human rights organizations were carried out by the authorities on February 16 and July 14 this year. As a result, over 50 searches in the homes of “Viasna” members were carried out throughout the country, over 20 human rights defenders were detained, three of which remain behind bars on charges of tax evasion to the date. These are “Viasna” Chairman Ales Bialiatski, FIDH Deputy chairman and Vice-president Valiantsin Stefanovich, and Coordinator of “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” campaign Uladzimir Labkovich. Lawyers of all the detained have signed a pledge of secrecy, so it is almost impossible to obtain any information on the case.
On September 17, we launched an international campaign #FreeViasna in support of “Viasna” members who had been imprisoned. In the frames of this campaign, we urge you to join the actions of solidarity and write letters to the imprisoned human rights defenders.
Today we suggest that you sign the petition for our colleagues’ immediate and unconditional release.
Spring is coming!