As part of the solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou of Libereco – Partnership for Human Rights, Katrin Göring-Eckardt has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood for the Belarusian human rights activist Andrei Chapiuk. The parliamentary group leader of Alliance 90/The Greens in the German Bundestag is thus already the 50th godparent for a political prisoner in Belarus.
Following the rigged presidential election in Belarus, the dictator Alexander Lukashenka, who has been in power for 26 years, has declared himself the winner. The conduct and outcome of the vote triggered massive protests, to which the regime responded with violence and far-reaching repression. The human rights situation in the EU’s neighbouring country has continued to deteriorate dramatically.
During the three months of peaceful protests against Lukashenko, the security forces have so far arrested more than 15,000 people, a large number of them completely arbitrarily. In addition, according to Libereco’s Belarusian partner organisation, the Viasna Human Rights Center, more than 100 political prisoners are currently in custody – the highest number since the country’s independence in 1991.
Libereco launched the #WeStandBYyou campaign in July
In early July Libereco launched the #WeStandBYyou campaign to show solidarity with all people in Belarus who are committed to free and fair elections, democratisation of the country, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Within the framework of #WeStandBYyou, 50 members of parliament from Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland have now taken over godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus. Their immediate and unconditional release is demanded by, among others, the Vice President of the European Parliament, Katarina Barley, the former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, the Vice President of the German Bundestag, Claudia Roth and the former President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.
Katrin Göring-Eckardt, leader of the Alliance 90/The Greens parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, will take over the 50th prisoner’s godparenthood for Andrei Chapiuk. The Belarusian human rights activist is a volunteer at the Human Rights Center Viasna. Officials of the Ministry of the Interior in Minsk arrested Chapiuk on 2 October and charged him on 9 October under Article 293 of the Belarusian Criminal Code for “participation in riots”. Viasna and Libereco consider the accusations to be unsubstantiated and politically motivated.
“The authorities are using brutal means to suppress the protests”
Commenting on her engagement, Ms. Göring-Eckardt said: “I consider Andrei Chapiuk a political prisoner of the Lukashenka regime and call for his immediate and unconditional release and for the protection of life and limb to be guaranteed for him. Like Belarusian and international human rights organisations, I consider his arrest to be politically motivated. Its sole purpose is to prevent his legitimate participation in peaceful protests for democracy and his work for the human rights of other political prisoners. The torture in Belarusian prisons, which is undoubtedly proven, must stop immediately. The Belarusian authorities are using brutal means to suppress the protests that have broken out throughout the country following the elections. I have the greatest respect for the courageous people who are facing the danger and demonstrating peacefully for democracy in their country.”
Göring-Eckardt had already taken over a prisoner’s godparenthood for Ales Bialiatski in 2011 as part of a Libereco campaign. The chairman of Viasna was then imprisoned for over 1000 days, from August 2011 to June 2014. In October 2020, Bialiatski and the human rights center Viasna were awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize, the Right Livelihood Award, for their decades of commitment to human rights.