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Three MPs from Switzerland and the Netherlands take on godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus

2024 2024-04-22T11:59:03+0300 2024-04-22T12:00:01+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

As part of #WeStandBYyou campaign, Samira Marti (Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz, Switzerland), Geert Gabriëls and Esmah Lahlah (both GroenLinks-PvdA, Netherlands) are taking on godparenthood for Anzhela Sikorskaya, Dzianis Dzemidovich and Valeryia Kastsiuhova.

Samira Marti

Anzhela Sikorskaya was arrested on 15 June 2023 and charged with “Insulting the President” (Art.368), “Insulting a government official” (Art. 369) and “Violence or threat against an official” (Art. 366). Anzhela must now serve a four-year prison sentence.

Samira Marti is a Member of the Swiss National Council (Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz) and Co-President of the Social Democratic Group of the Federal Assembly. With her second godparenthood she stands in solidarity with Anzhela Sikorskaya and says: “Anzhela is losing 4 years of her life because she allegedly insulted and threatened Belarusian state officials. The only danger she posed was using her right to freedom of expression. Such conditions are unthinkable in Switzerland but are, unfortunately, part of everyday life in Belarus under the Lukashenko regime. Peaceful protest is met with brutal violence. Freedom of expression leads to the loss of one’s freedom. As the godparent of Anzhela Sikorskaya, I am campaigning for her and all political prisoners in Belarus to be released and rehabilitated immediately. I stand in solidarity with Anzhela and all these courageous people who oppose the authoritarian, inhumane system and stand up for freedom and democracy! #WeStandBYyou”

Geert Gabriëls

Dzianis Dzemidovich was arrested on 12 September 2022 and afterwards sentenced to 3 years in prison for “Insulting the President” (Art.368) and “Slander against the President” (Art. 367).

Geert Gabriëls is a Member of Parliament for GroenLinks-PvdA in the Dutch Tweede Kammer. He has taken on the godparenthood for Dzianis Dzemidovich and explains: “Political prisoners in Belarus cannot live their lives in freedom. They risk being forgotten and that is unjust. It is very important to continue to stand up for them. Being able to criticize a president or government is part of freedom of expression. Self-evident for us. In Belarus this leads to a prison sentence of, in the case of Dzianis Dzemidovich, three years. As I write this I already notice that I want to know more about this man. Who is he, besides a political prisoner in the Belarusian dictatorship. How can I help him, now or perhaps after his future release? What does he need and what are his dreams? What is his story? I would like to meet him someday. Thanks to this campaign, we now all know about his existence. Let’s hope it leads to something from which he reaps the benefits.”

Esmah Lahlah

Valeryia Kastsiuhova is a well-known political scientist and head of the monitoring expert group “Belarus in Focus”. She was arrested on 30 June 2021 because of her activities, which the regime considered subversive. The charges against Valeryia included allegedly “Endangering national security” (Art. 361), “Conspiracy to seize power” (Art. 357), and “Incitement to hatred” (Art. 130). The judge found Valeryia guilty and sentenced her to 10 years in prison.

Esmah Lahlah is a member of parliament for GroenLinks-PvdA in the Dutch Tweede Kammer and takes on godparenthood for Valeryia Kastsiuhova. She makes the following statement: “I stand for the release of political prisoners because no individual has the right to be oppressed for expressing their views. I am participating in this campaign because I consider freedom to be a fundamental right, not a luxury. Together for a world in which justice and freedom are self-evident for everyone.”

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