European MPs take over prisoners’ godparenthood for Siarhei Tsikhanouski, Artsiom Sakau and Dzmitry Furmanau
Within the framework of the solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou of Libereco – Partnership for Human Rights, three more MPs have taken over a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus. Radoslaw Sikorski (European Parliament, Civic Platform, Poland), Gyde Jensen (Bundestag, FDP, Germany) and Erik Marquardt (European Parliament, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, Germany) demand their immediate and unconditional release.
Siarhei Tsikhanouski is a video blogger on YouTube who has been denied his own presidential candidacy by the Belarusian authorities. On 29 May, he was arrested in Grodno during an election rally to collect signatures for the registration of his wife, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, as a presidential candidate and charged under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code. Later, a further charge was brought under Article 191 of the Belarusian Criminal Code.
Radoslaw Sikorski, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the EU Parliament and former Polish Foreign Minister, has taken over the godparenthood of Siarhei Tsikhanouski. He explains:
“I insist on immediate release of Siarhei Tsikhanouski, who – as an increasingly popular presidential candidate – was arrested and remanded as criminal suspect on unfounded charges. His detention is a part of yet another wide-ranging attack on human rights in Belarus. These actions, instigated by President Lukashenko, call for a strong European reaction. As one of the founding fathers of the Eastern Partnership, I fear that such violation of democratic election procedures seriously threatens the future of Belarus partnership with the EU.”
Artsiom Sakau, a member of the election campaign team of presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, was also arrested on 29 May at the election rally in Grodno and charged under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code.
Gyde Jensen, the chairwoman of the Committee for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid in the German Bundestag, declared on the occasion of taking over her prisoner’s godparenthood of Artsiom Sakau:“Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime systematically disregards the rights of its citizens and silences the opposition in the race for the upcoming presidential elections. We cannot stand idly by when a dictator tramples on the rule of law and democracy in the middle of Europe. On behalf of all arbitrarily imprisoned opposition members, journalists and demonstrators, I call for the immediate release of Artsiom Sakau. All those who have the courage to stand up for their civil liberties must have the support of the international community behind them.”
As another member of the presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s campaign team, Dzmitry Furmanau was also arrested at the election rally in Grodno on 29 May and charged under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code. On 26 July, his mother and girlfriend went on an indefinite hunger strike demanding the release of Dzmitry Furmanau.
Green MEP Erik Marquardt has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood of Dzmitry Furmanau. He said:
“It is well known that there are no free and fair elections in Belarus. But the Lukashenko regime is currently going further and has imprisoned members of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s election campaign team after an election rally on 29 May. Among them is Dzmitry Furmanau. He was imprisoned for supporting an opposing candidate in the presidential elections. Therefore, the regime accuses him of having prepared actions that could endanger public order. If supporting a candidate in the presidential elections is already considered a threat to public order, this shows the nature of the regime in Minsk. It is not a democracy. I call for the immediate release of Dzmitry Furmanau and all other political prisoners in Belarus.”