As part of Libereco’s #WeStandBYyou solidarity campaign, Saara Hyrkkö (Parliament of Finland, Green League), Catherine Ardagh (Seanad Éireann, Fianna Fáil) and Alois Rainer (German Bundestag, CSU) are taking over godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Yuliya Kashaverava is a nurse from Viciebsk convicted of hooliganism. During the trial, it was reported that during a peaceful protest on October 4, the woman removed the mask and the hat from a police officer and kicked a police bus. Yulia Kashaverava partially admitted her guilt. She did not deny that she could not restrain herself and struck three blows on the back door of a police minibus after she was not allowed to provide assistance to an injured protester. But she stressed that she did not remove the mask and the hat from the police officer. On February 23, 2021, she was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in a general-security penal colony.
Saara Hyrkkö, member of the Parliament of Finland, has taken over the godparenthood for Yuliya Kashaverava and states: “The situation of political activists and demonstrators in Belarus has been devastating for a very long time. Democracy, freedom of expression and human rights are at the core of European values. These values are not validated in Belarus at the moment. I am happy to take godparenthood to political prisoner Yuliya Kashaverava whose immediate release I strongly demand. As an MP and a member of foreign affairs committee I have supported human rights based foreign policy in my duties. Taking godparenthood to Yuliya Kashaverava is an expression of solidarity for all the Belarusian political prisoners that they are not forgotten.”
Pavel Mazko is a resident of Brest, a defendant in a criminal case under Art. 293 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (participation in riots), which was opened after the August 2020 post-election protests. Prior to his detention, Pavel designed clothes, volunteered, and supported people with disabilities and children in orphanages. Mazko had been on bail since January, but on March 23, 2021, he was interrogated and detained. He is awaitng his trail in pre-trial detention center No. 7 in Brest.
Catherine Ardagh, member of the Seanad Éireann, has apodted Pavel Mazko and declares: “I stand by Pavel Mazko who stands for democracy, a cornerstone of the basic freedom we take for granted in Ireland. I call on the authorities in Bealrus to release Pavel, an 18 year old political prisoner who has been in jail since March 2021 because he participated in a peaceful demonstration after the falsification of the results of the 2020 presidential election. It is scandalous that this young man, who is known for his volunteering in support of people with disabilities, is imprisoned on political grounds.”
Maryna Zolatava is editor-in-chief of TUT.BY, the most popular online news outled in Belarus. In 2019, Zolatava was already sentenced to a heavy fine which human rights activists believe was politically motivated. She was detained on May 18, 2021, in the framework of a criminal case initiated against TUT.BY for tax evasion on an especially large scale (Part 2 of Article 243 of the Criminal Code of Belarus). She is currently in pre-trial detention center No. 1 in Minsk.
Alois Rainer, member of the German Bundestag, said on the occasion of taking over a godparenthood for Maryna Zolatava: “Regarding the upcoming elections for the Bundestag, we should make ourselves aware of our democratic system, the freedom of speech as well as the freedom of the press and media. In a part of our neighbourhood in Eastern Europe, these values have been abolished. The elections in Belarus the past year were not organized democratically. Since then, the efforts by the Belarus civilisation for democracy have been nipped in the bud. The government pursues a strategy of intimidation and violence. In these times, the people of Belarus need international support on their way to democracy. I am honoured to take over the good parenthood for Maryna Zolatava. She is editor-in-chief of “TUT.BY”, the country’s largest independent news agency. In the framework of a criminal case initiated against TUT.BY for tax evasion in a large scale, she and her colleagues were detained on May 18, 2021. However, it is believed that this determination was politically motivated because of her central function and her importance for independent press in Belarus. As a member of the German parliament, I call for the release of Maryna Zolatava and all further unjustly imprisoned citizens, including the end of violence and take through free and fair elections in Belarus”