As part of the solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou of Libereco, Gudrun Kugler (National Council, ÖVP, Austria), Johannes Schraps (Bundestag, SPD, Germany) and Katja Leikert (Bundestag, CDU, Germany) have taken over a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Artsiom Sauchuk was arrested during the protests against the Lukashenka regime and charged under Article 293 (“organisation of mass riots”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code.
Gudrun Kugler, spokeswoman for human rights and displaced persons of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood for Artsiom Sauchuk and declared: “In the midst of all the difficulties we are currently facing in Austria, we must not forget the many other scenes of injustice, lack of freedom and pain. This is why I have taken on a godparenthood for the Belarusian Artsiom Sauchuk and demand his immediate release! This young man is behind bars because he took to the streets peacefully for the democratic rights of the people of Belarus. To imprison people for their commitment to freedom and democracy shows the cowardice of a regime and tramples on human rights. There must be no place for this in Europe! With the campaign #WeStandBYyou we express our solidarity with the democratic movement in Belarus and call for the release of all political prisoners. Our deep respect goes to all those who, with great courage and determination, and with their freedom, raise their voices for democracy and human rights in Belarus. You are not alone! We are at your side!”
Pavel Yukhnevich is a long-time activist of the opposition group “European Belarus”. He has been intimidated and persecuted by the Belarusian authorities and sentenced to fines and imprisonment in the past. Masked security guards stormed the flat rented by the activists of “European Belarus” on 25 September and confiscated all IT equipment, flags and personal belongings. Pavel Yukhnevich was arrested and charged under Article 293 of the Belarusian Criminal Code (“organising mass riots”).
Johannes Schraps, Member of the Bundestag Committee on European Union Affairs, said on the occasion of his taking over his prisoner’s godparenthood for Pavel Yukhnevich: “Belarusians have been taking to the streets for three months to campaign for free and fair elections. This peaceful protest has been met by the regime with great violence. More than a hundred people are imprisoned because of their political involvement. What the Lukashenka regime is doing after an obviously undemocratic election is unacceptable and must not be tolerated. Pavel Yukhnevich is among those imprisoned for their political activities. I call for the immediate release of him and all other political prisoners who are fighting for their rights, democracy, the rule of law and freedom in Belarus”.
Antanina Kanavalava is an activist in the campaign team of the presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. She was arrested on 6 September and sentenced to a fine for taking part in an unauthorised event. However, she was not released after her trial but was re-arrested in the course of criminal proceedings. She is considered a suspect under Article 293 (“Organisation of mass unrest”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code.
Katja Leikert, deputy chairwoman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag, has taken over the godparenthood for Antanina Kanavalava. She declared: “I demand the immediate release of Antanina Kanavalava. Her reasons for detention are flimsy. Working for opposition politicians must not lead to arbitrary arrests without any due process of law. Antanina Kanavalava and all political prisoners must be released immediately”.