As part of Libereco’s #WeStandBYyou solidarity campaign, Helena Kennedy (House of Lords, Labour Party, UK), David Josefsson (Sveriges Riksdag, Moderaterna, Sweden) and Margrete Auken (European Parliament, Socialistisk Folkeparti, Denmark) are becoming godparents of political prisoners in Belarus.
Mikita Yemialyianau is an anarchist who was arrested on October 20, 2019 and charged under Art. 218 of the Criminal Code (Intentional destruction or damage to property committed in a generally dangerous manner or causing damage on a large scale), Art. 341 (Desecration of buildings and damage to property) and Art. 295 (Unlawful acts against firearms, ammunition and explosives) He was sentenced on February 12, 2020 by the Lieninski District Court of Minsk to 7 years in prison. On March 27, 2020 the Minsk City Court heard the convict’s appeal and reduced the term to 4 years.
Helena Kennedy, member of the House of Lords, has accepted the godparenthood of Mikita Yemialiyanau, stating: “The history of liberty is a history of resistance” – Woodrow Wilson.
I have chosen to support Mikita Yemialiyanau who was only 19 when sentenced to 4 years imprisonment for criminal damage. A disproportionate sentence for an act of defiance. His bold action was to draw attention to the cruel treatment of political prisoners in Belarus and the oppressive nature of the state. I stand with him and all the political prisoners for whom he agitated.”
Pavel Spiryn is a political blogger who runs a YouTube channel. He was imprisoned on September 9, 2020. In the 2020 presidential elections, the blogger announced his intention to run for president, but the Central Election Commission refused to register his nominating group. At the same time, Pavel Spiryn made harsh remarks against Alexander Lukashenko in his speech at a meeting of the Central Election Commission, which could be one of the reasons for his persecution. He eventually became the deputy of presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
Spiryn was charged under Part 1 of Article 130 of the Criminal Code: “Intentional acts aimed at inciting racial, national, religious or other social hatred or hostility based on racial, national, religious, linguistic or other social affiliation.” The charges are based on two videos posted on his YouTube channel.
On February 5,2021 he was sentenced in Minsk under Article 130 of the Criminal Code to 4.5 years in a penal colony with general security. He is serving his sentence in penal colony No. 2 in Babruysk.
David Josefsson, member of the Sveriges Riksdag has taken over the godparenthood of Pavel Spiryn and declares: “Pavel Spiryn could have been me, I could have been Pavel Spiryn. We have basically done the same thing – we have made our voice heard on social media and been candidates for office. But while I serve in the Swedish Parliament Riksdagen, Pavel Spiryn is in prison. It is approximately 1 000 km between my hometown Gothenburg and Minsk. It is as far as between Gothenburg and Luleå in northern Sweden. The dictatorship is here, in our vicinity. The repression in Belarus is disgusting and must be condemned. The support for the democracy movement must be strengthened. Pavel Spiryn together with all other political prisoners in Belarus must be released immediately. There must be democracy and freedom of speech in Belarus now.”
Anatol Khinevich is a 27-year-old programmer and singer from Barysaŭ. On December 24, 2020, Sawiecki District Court in Minsk sentenced him to two years and six months in prison under Part 2 of Article 363 of the Criminal Code for allegedly kicking riot police officers during the Justice March on September 20, 2020. He is serving time in Vićba Penal Colony No. 3
Margrete Auken, member of the European Parliament, has taken over the godparenthood of Anatol Khinevich. On the occasion of her godparenthood, Mrs Auken states: “I stand by Anatol Khinevich, a political prisoner in Belarus. Anatol Khinevich has done nothing more than standing valiantly up against Aliaksandr Lukasheko´s corrupt regime of electoral fraud and violations of basic political and civil rights. I am appalled by this wrongful and lawless treatment of Anatol and join the voices of international society to demand that mass arrests are stopped. Independent and impartial judiciaries and access to fair trials are cornerstones of democracy. I thus call for the immediate release of Anatol and all other political prisoners in Belarus. Mr. Lukashenko must listen to the opposition and ensure free elections. The dictatorship of Belarus must be brought to an end!”