As part of Libereco’s solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Valentin Abel (German Bundestag, Free Democratic Party), Krzysztof Śmiszek (Polish Sejm, New Left) and René Repasi (European Parliament, Social Democratic Party) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Aliaksandr Ahraitsovich is an entrepreneur and served as an election observer at the 2019 parliamentary elections. In May 2020, he suspected in the electoral commission of electoral fraud on his YouTube channel. On 12 June 2021, he was arrested and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for “defamation” (Criminal Code, Art. 188).
Valentin Abel is a member of the Bundestag and has taken on the godparenthood of Aliaksandr Ahraitsovich. He states: “Election observers play an indispensable role in the democratic election process. For a democracy can only function if elections are fair and free. Aliaksandr Ahraitsovich was an election observer in Belarus in 2019 and pointed out election fraud to the election commission – in 2021 he was arrested for “defamation” and sentenced to two years in prison. Aliaksandr Ahraitsovich is one of many Belarusian political prisoners. I stand in solidarity with those who stand up for democracy, the rule of law and freedom. Germany and the EU must stand up even more forcefully for the political prisoners and the development of democratic structures in Belarus.”
Yuliya Syrykh is a volunteer with the foundation “A Country to Live In”, which supports the democracy movement and families of political prisoners. On 9 July 2021, she was arrested for allegedly “financing the activities of an extremist group” (Criminal Code, Art. 361-2).
Krzysztof Śmiszek is a member of the Polish Parliament Sejm and of the commission of human rights. He has become the godparent of Yuliya Syrykh and states: “As part of the #WeStandBYyou campaign, I decided to take care of the political prisoner Yuliye Syrykh. The Belarusian KGB arrested her for opposition activities under the pretext of “financing extremist groups”. Yuliya is an always smiling, determined woman who wants a democratic change in Belarus. On a daily basis, she used to drive a taxi and raise her son. From today, as an MP, I will try to monitor her case and work for her release. Today, our solidarity with all the victims of the regime is very important.”
Safiya Malashevich was detained on 30 November 2020. On 22 January 2021, she was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for the alleged “organization of actions that grossly violate public order” (Criminal Code, Art. 342), “insulting the president” (Art. 368) and “hooliganism” (Art. 339).
René Repasi is a Member of the European Parliament and has taken over the godparenthood of Safiya Malashevich from the retired MEP Evelyne Gebhardt. On the occasion of Safiya’s birthday on 18 February, he declared: “More than 100,000 people have taken to the streets in Belarus in peaceful rallies, since the summer of 2020, to stand up for their right to free and democratic elections. The mass protests were the people’s response to the obviously rigged presidential elections by dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Despite the regime’s violent attempt to suppress the protests, countless courageous citizens continued to protest. Women in particular have played a crucial role in the protests, including Safiya Malashevich, who was only 18 years old at the time.
Safiya, who turns 20 today, was first arrested during the democracy movement protests in Belarus in September 2020. Her only offence was to spray graffiti on the shields of some government vehicles. A few months later, she was sentenced to two years in a penal colony. The sentence lacks any basis in the rule of law and testifies to the ruthlessness and cruelty of the regime!
As a Member of the European Parliament, I call on the prison administration in Gomel and the government in Belarus to immediately end the inhumane solitary confinement of Safiya Malashevich and to immediately release her and the over 1000 political prisoners in Belarus! Let Safiya spend her birthday with her family.”