As part of Libereco’s #WeStandBYyou solidarity campaign, Willie Rennie (Scottish Parliament, Liberal Democrats), Valérie Piller Carrard (Swiss National Council, Social Democrats) und Colm Markey (European Parliament, Fine Gael) are taking on godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Volha Loika is a lead editor for politics and economics at the independent online medium Tut.by. Loika was arrested on 18 May 2021 and has since been in a pre-trial detention centre. As part of criminal proceedings against Tut.by, Loika is accused of tax evasion under Article 243 of the Belarusian Criminal Code.
Willie Rennie, Member of the Scottish Parliament, has taken on the godparenthood for Volha Loika. He states: “The appalling suppression of the media and the wrongful detention and violence against journalists, by the authoritarian state in Belarus, has been shocking. The charges brought against staff of the independent online news site Tut.by are completely absurd and I’m honoured to be asked to adopt and call for the release of its editor Volha Loika. Volha was detained in May, as part of a criminal case against Tut.by for large scale tax evasion, and is currently being held in a pre-trial detention centre. I join my fellow elected representatives from across the Liberal Democrats, Scotland and Europe, urging the government of Belarus to put a stop to further violence and to respect the fundamental human rights of the Belarusian people and their right to freedom of the press.”
Siarhei Maushuk was arrested in early December 2020 for participating in «mass riots» in Pinsk on 9 August 2020. Based on Article 293 of the Belarusian Criminal Code, a court in Brest sentenced him on 30 April 2021 for “participation in riots”. He is bound to serve 6.5 years in a medium security penal colony.
Colm Markey, Member of the European Parliament for Ireland, commented on his godbarenthood of Siarhei Maushuk: “Siarhei Maushuk is a political prisoner serving a sentence of six years and six months in Belarus because he took part in a peaceful demonstration against the rigged 2020 presidential election. Both he and his wife Alena, who is serving a similar sentence for the same reason, should be released immediately and reunited with their family. It is disgraceful that people are incarcerated for years simply because they exercise the right of peaceful assembly.”
Dzmitry Shymanski is a Belarusian musician. He was arrested on 2 August 2021 together with several other people at the birthday party of Nadzeya Kalach, a musician of the band IRDORATH. The folk band had taken part in the demonstrations against the rigged presidential election in August 2020. Shymanski is charged with “organising, preparing or participating in actions that grossly violate public order” (Belarusian Criminal Code, Article 342).
Valérie Piller Carrard, a member of the Swiss National Council and the parliamentary Pardon Commission, stated on her godparenthood of Shymanski: “I am deeply impressed by and in solidarity with all Belarusian citizens who are fighting for their human rights, democracy and freedom in their country under the most difficult conditions. For this reason, as a member of the Swiss National Council, I serve as a godparent for the musician Dzmitry Shymanski. Artistic freedom and the possibility to freely express one’s own opinion are fundamental pillars of democracy that must be preserved at all costs. I therefore call for the immediate and unconditional release of Dzmitry Shymanski and all other Belarusian political prisoners.”