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#FreeViasna: Latest news about jailed Viasna human rights defenders

2023 2023-05-29T18:16:40+0300 2023-05-29T18:20:41+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On September 17, #FreeViasna campaign of solidarity with the imprisoned Viasna members was launched. Here’s the latest news about them.

The Viasna page on the Flickr photo-hosting site has been deemed “extremist”


The Lieninski district court of Brest made the decision on the organization's founding day, April 26.

Marfa Rabkova has been behind bars for more than 32 months

Marfa Rabkova, the coordinator of Viasna's Volunteer Service, was detained on September 17, 2020. The human rights activist was later charged under several articles of the Criminal Code for events from 2016–2020 and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. As a result of the appeal, Rabkova's term was reduced by three months.

Belarusians in Canada are gathering signatures for a petition demanding the immediate release of Marfa Rabkova to present to their local House of Commons.

“By signing this petition, you are showing your solidarity with Marfa Rabkova and sending a powerful message against the violation of human rights,” diaspora representatives noted.

Their goal is to collect 500 signatures by May 31 and ensure the Canadian Parliament considers the petition. 

Andrei Chapiuk turned 27 on May 17

Andrei Chapiuk

This is already the third birthday that Viasna's volunteer, Andrei Chapiuk, has spent behind bars.

Remember, Andrei was sentenced to six years in a penal colony last September. The Supreme Court later reduced the term by three months to five years and nine months imprisonment. In March, Chapiuk was transferred to the Ivacevičy colony.

Katrin Göring-Eckardt, Andrei’s symbolic godmother as part of the #WeStandByYou campaign and the leader of the parliamentary group "Bündnis90/Die Grünen" in the German Bundestag, congratulated him with a post on Twitter.

Today Andrei Chapiuk turns 27. The Belarusian regime has held him as a political prisoner for 957 days. At @viasna96 he campaigned for respect for human rights in Belarus. He must be released immediately. #FreeViasna #WeStandBYyou

Katrin Göring-Eckardt

On May 17, Polish President Andrzej Duda, in his speech during the Council of Europe summit, called for supporting the leaders of the democratic movement in Belarus, including Ales Bialiatski.

“We must increase pressure on the Lukashenka regime to release all political prisoners, including journalist Andrzej Poczobut and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski,” he said.

More than 100 Nobel laureates signed a letter in support of Ales Bialiatski

On May 21, 2023, International PEN, an organization of writers and an organization for the protection of freedom of speech, published a letter signed by 103 Nobel laureates, expressing solidarity with a writer, human rights activist, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and PEN member Ales Bialiatski and condemning the harsh, relentless, and systematic suppression of independent opinions by the Belarusian authorities.

“We stand with the multitude of writers, journalists, cultural workers, human rights defenders, and citizens of Belarus who are serving lengthy prison terms merely for peacefully expressing their views and speaking truth to power.

We stand with the fearless people of Belarus who continue to fight for their human rights. In the words of Bialiatski – we, too, believe, because we know that spring always comes after winter.”

For a month, there has been no information about Ales Bialiatski, the head of Viasna and Nobel laureate, after his transfer to the Horki colony No. 9. Recently, the human rights defender's relatives finally received the first letter from the colony.

Remember, on March 3, the Lieninski District Court of Minsk punished Ales Bialiatski with 10 years of deprivation of freedom and his colleagues Valiantsin Stefanovic and Uladzimir Labkovich — with nine and seven years imprisonment, respectively. The appeal was heard on April 21; the Supreme Court left the sentence unchanged. The human rights defenders have been in detention for over 22 months.

During the actions that took place in different cities on the Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners in Belarus, the imprisoned human rights defenders of Viasna were also mentioned

About 150 duffle bags were displayed in the square in Vilnius, Lithuania. Inmates traditionally use duffle bags to transfer their stuff to jail.
Former political prisoners and activists with images of human rights defenders at the meeting on May 21 in Zurich, Switzerland.
Solidarity action in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Stands with Viasna human rights defenders in Krakow, Poland.

The world has not forgotten about Belarusian political prisoners: How the international community expresses solidarity on the Day of Political Prisoners

The human rights center Viasna has designated May 21 as the Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners in Belarus. The international community has been actively responsive to the event. Representatives from different countries worldwide continue to express solidarity and demand the release of Belarusian political prisoners.

An Indian political cartoonist and activist Aseem Trivedi dedicated one of his works to Viasna:


Ales Bialiatski's wife, Natallia Pinchuk, spoke at the World Expression Forum. She stated that her husband, all detained human rights defenders, and all political prisoners in Belarus must be released unconditionally.

“Any contact with the authorities in Minsk is only possible after this (provided Russia stops its assistance and aggression against Ukraine). The release of political prisoners is not a subject for endless negotiations, not a commodity for trade. Still, the only way out of the impasse the dictator has led the country and people.

Negotiations with Lukashenka, behind whom the shadow of Putin stands, are fruitless. Therefore, great respect for those countries and politicians who show principled stand and have no illusions.

We must also hope for the firmness of international organizations, which must stand guard for democratic values and peace.”

There was no news from the head of the Homieĺ branch of Viasna Leanid Sudalenka lately.

Human rights defenders participated in a 5 and 10-kilometer walk in Vilnius


The ĖJIMAS event involved team participation, so human rights defenders wore t-shirts with images of their imprisoned colleagues from Viasna: Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovic, Uladzimir Labkovich, Leanid Sudalenka, Marfa Rabkova, and Andrei Chapiuk.

“We decided to join the action because it's a simple way to express our solidarity with Viasna's imprisoned members, who are currently in colonies and don't have the opportunity to walk around the city, to breathe free air freely,” the action participants say.


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