As part of Libereco’s solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Petras Austriavičius (European Parliament, Lithuania), Tineke Strik (European Parliament, Netherlands) and Fabian Molina (National Council, Switzerland) have taken over a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Viktar Babaryka was arrested as a presidential candidate on 18 June together with his son Eduard Babaryka while they were on their way to the Central Election Commission. He has been charged under several articles of the Belarusian Criminal Code with alleged tax evasion, money laundering, bribery and other financial offences. Human rights organisations consider these allegations to be constructed in order to prevent him from participating in the presidential election. Viktar Babaryka insists on his complete innocence.
Petras Austriavičius, Lithuanian Member of the European Parliament and European Parliament’s permanent rapporteur on Belarus, has taken over the godparenthood for Viktar Babaryka. He states: “Viktar Babaryka is a political victim of Lukashenka’s dictatorship. He was prevented from executing his political rights and taking part in the Presidential election. Instead, he was unlawfully imprisoned. I call for an immediate and unconditional release of Viktar Babaryka.”
Aliaksandr Aranovich is a member of the team of the YouTube channel “Country for Living”. He was arrested at an election rally in Grodno on 29 May and charged under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code (“organising and preparing acts which seriously violate public order”).
Tineke Strik, Dutch Member of the European Parliament, made the following statement on the occasion of her assumption of her prisoner’s godparenthood for Aliaksandr Aranovich: “No single individual should be locked up for political reasons. That is why I politically adopted Aliaksandr Aranovich, calling on the Belarusian authorities for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all political prisoners. I call upon President Lukashenka to respect the right to self-determination of the Belarussian people, and organize new, free and fair elections as soon as possible.”
Aliaksandr Frantskevich is an activist of an anarchist movement and was arrested on 13 August during a peaceful protest. He was charged with “organising riots” under Article 293 of the Belarusian Criminal Code. Aliaksandr Frantskevich reports that he was tortured in the KGB. He had already been imprisoned as a political prisoner for three years from 2010-2013 and was also subsequently sentenced several times to additional prison terms of several weeks for his activities.
The Swiss National Councilor Fabian Molina has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood for Aliaksandr Frantskevich. He states: “The name Aliaksandr Frantskevich stands for resistance. It stands for resistance against the dictatorship in Belarus and the struggle for freedom, democracy, solidarity and justice. Aliaksandr has already been arrested several times for taking to the streets against the Belarusian dictator Lukashenka and for fighting for basic rights. Most recently, Aliaksandr was arrested in August during the peaceful demonstrations against Lukashenka’s rigged elections. For this reason, as National Councilor of the SP Switzerland, I take over the prisoner’s godparenthood for Aliaksandr Frantskevich and hereby demand his immediate release. President Lukashenka violates democratic values and fundamental human rights on a daily basis. This must be resisted, because human rights are not negotiable! #WeStandBYyou”