Three MPs from Germany and Austria become godparents to Mikita Karpenka, Danuta Peradnia and Kiryl Klimau
As part of our #WeStandBYyou solidarity campaign, Jürgen Hardt (German Bundestag, CDU), Bettina Stark-Watzinger (German Bundestag, FDP) and Andreas Schieder (European Parliament, SPÖ, Austria) have again taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Mikita Karpenka was only 16 years old when he was arrested on 6 October 2022. For his comments on a social network, the judge sentenced him to 2 years’ imprisonment under Article 130-1 (“Incitement to hatred”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code and Art. 367-2 (“Insulting the president of the Republic of Belarus”). The charge of “insulting a public official” under Article 369 and the accompanying demand for “compensation for moral damage” were dropped after Mikita apologised.
Jürgen Hardt is a Member of the German Bundestag and foreign policy spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. He becomes the godparent for Mikita Karpenka and states: “Even though the situation of the opposition in Belarus has become quieter and the coverage has moved on to other issues – the political situation has not changed. The UN estimates that there are nearly 1,500 political prisoners in Belarus, and there is no contact with many of them. It is a system – we are supposed to forget about the political prisoners in the penal camps, but that is exactly what we are not going to do. That is why I have adopted Mikita Karpenka and call on the Belarusian government to release this young man! He has been sentenced to two years in prison for incitement and insulting the president. In any constitutional state, his statements would be covered by the right to freedom of expression. But Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime does everything it can to stifle opposition. Young people like Mikita Karpenka must not be locked away in prison camps just because they use peaceful means to campaign for a free and democratic future.”
Danuta Peradnia was a student of Roman-Germanic Philology at the State University of Mahiliou. She was arrested on 28 February 2022 and subsequently expelled from the university. In a chat group, Danuta shared a text highly critical of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, Putin and Lukashenko. It also contained passages calling for peaceful street protests against the war. The court found Danuta guilty of violating Art. 361 (“Calling for actions that harm the national security of the Republic of Belarus”) and Art. 368 (“Insulting the President”). Danuta is serving a 6.5 year prison sentence and is listed by the Belarusian KGB as a “person involved in terrorist activities”.
Bettina Stark-Watzinger is a Member of the German Bundestag and Federal Minister of Education and Research since 2021. After her former godchild Aliaksandr Kisialiou had been released, she has taken on the godparenthood for Danuta Peradnia and says: “Young people like Danuta Peradnia should be able to experience the world and change it for the better. Instead, they are being bloodily oppressed by the Belarusian regime. This is an injustice that makes one angry. Danuta Peradnia’s commitment to peace was not a crime, but courageous and honourable. She must be released immediately. We continue to stand resolutely with the many courageous people who are standing up for freedom, democracy and human rights in Belarus.”
Kiryl Klimau worked at the Belarusian Academy of Sciences for many years and later changed to the private sector. On 23 February 2023, he was arrested and convicted on the pretext of “financing activities of extremist groups” under Art. 361-2 of the Belarusian Criminal Code. Kiryl was sentenced to four years in prison for donating a total of $60 to human rights organisations such as BYSOL or BY_help.
Andreas Schieder is an Austrian Member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. With his godparenthood he supports Kiryl Klimau and explains: “I call for the immediate release of political prisoner Kiryl Klimau. It is a legitimate right to support human rights organisations working for the respect of very basic rights. The fact that imprisonment is used by the Belarusian authorities to suppress social and political activities, dissent and anti-war demonstrations, and even – as in this case – passive support through a financial donation to a human rights organisation, is unacceptable and a violation of human rights. I therefore call for the immediate suspension of the politically motivated arrest of Kiryl Klimau.”