Solidarity campaign extended: New prisoners’ godparenthood for Statkevich, Seviarynets and Ushak

2020 2020-07-24T13:37:12+0300 2020-07-24T13:40:37+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/westandbyyou-396x280.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Within the framework of the solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou of Libereco, three more MPs have taken over a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus. Margarete Bause (Bundestag, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), Michael Gahler (European Parliament, CDU) and Viola von Cramon (European Parliament, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) demand their immediate and unconditional release.

Margarete Bause and Mikalai Statkevich at a meeting in Minsk in February 2020
Margarete Bause and Mikalai Statkevich at a meeting in Minsk in February 2020

The Social Democratic politician Mikalai Statkevich was arrested on 31 May on his way to an election event for the presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and later charged under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code. Statkevich had already been imprisoned as a political prisoner for several years because of his oppositional activities.

Margarete Bause, who is the human rights spokeswoman of the Green parliamentary group in the Bundestag, has taken over the godparenthood of Mikalai Statkevich. She declares: “I stand firmly on the side of Belarusian civil society and will continue to support Belarusian human rights activists in their fight for democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Freedom for Mikalai Statkevich and all other political prisoners!”

The Christian Democrat politician Pavel Seviarynets was arrested on 7th June and sentenced to several terms of imprisonment. His total term of imprisonment of at least 105 days will exceed the maximum term of three months permitted in Belarus, which applies to convicted criminals. Like Statkevich, Seviarynets has already spent several years in prison for political reasons. According to media reports, Pavel Seviarynets allegedly attempted suicide in June by cutting his veins in protest at the inhumane prison conditions.

Michael Gahler demands the release of Pavel Seviarynets
Michael Gahler demands the release of Pavel Seviarynets

Michael Gahler, the foreign policy spokesman of the EPP group in the European Parliament, said on the occasion of taking over his godparenthood: “Pavel Seviarynets is a political prisoner who has been persecuted and harassed by the regime for years and is currently innocently imprisoned in inhumane conditions. I know him personally and am shocked by his suicide attempt, which can only be explained by the coercive measures imposed by the regime. I demand his immediate release.”

Viarhili Ushak was a photographer who filmed an election event in Grodno on 29 May and was arrested on the same day. He was also charged under Article 342 of the Belarusian penal code.

Green MEP Viola von Cramon stresses in a video statement on the occasion of her assumption of the prisoner’s godparenthood of Viarhili Ushak: “Viarhili Ushak has not committed anything unlawful, but he is accused and may end up in prison for up to 3 years. We, as Members of Parliament, must protect ourselves against these cases. We call on the President of the country, Alexander Lukashenko, to finally stop these completely arbitrary, political arrests, some of which involve torture. Human rights must also be respected in Belarus’.”

Libereco calls on the Belarusian President to release all political prisoners in the country immediately and unconditionally. More than 20 people are still imprisoned for political reasons in the EU neighbouring state.

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