As part of Libereco’s solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic (Austrian National Council, Green Party), Lena Werner (German Bundestag, Social Democratic Party) and Ophelia Nick (German Bundestag, Alliance 90/The Greens) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
On 10 December 2020, Halina Dzerbysh was detained on the charges of “conspiracy to seize power in an unconstitutional way” (Art. 357 of the Criminal Code), “participation in a criminal organization” (Art. 285) and “terrorism” (Art. 289).
Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic, Member of the Austrian Nationalrat, declares on the occasion of taking on the godparenthood for Halina Dzerbysh: “Even if Russia’s war in Ukraine has pushed the situation in Belarus out of the headlines, we must not forget that there are still thousands of opposition activists in Lukashenko’s prisons – people who selflessly risk their lives and livelihoods for their convictions. They rightly expect us to continue to support their peaceful struggle with all means. Since the beginning of the citizens’ protests, I have been doing this on a political as well as on a civil society level. So I am happy to take on another symbolic godparenthood as part of the #WeStandBYyou campaign for political prisoners in Belarus: the retired accountant Halina Dzerbysh, who worked for years as an independent election observer, has been in prison since December 2020 on charges of “terrorist” activities and has in fact done nothing other than exercise her civil rights. By making the regime’s crimes visible to the world public, we show imprisoned victims like Halina that we will not leave them alone. Just as in the Russia-Ukraine war, the evil in Belarus has the same root: a dictator takes hostage an entire people who want to live in freedom and peace. In both cases, a large part of the people is striving for Europe and a ruler wants to prevent that. The democratic movement in Belarus will certainly need a lot of patience, but sooner or later the people’s desire for freedom will break through. Our task is to support the people of Belarus in this process as best we can.”
Vital Shyshlou was detained on 25 September 2020. He was subsequently sentenced to six years of imprisonment for “participation in riots” (Art. 293 of the Criminal Code), “organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order” (Art. 342) and “violence against an employee of the authorities for internal affairs” (Art. 364).
Lena Werner, Member of the German Bundestag, has taken on the godparenthood for Vital Shyshlou and comments as follows: “On 23 September 2020, Vital Shyshlou joined a peaceful protest against the inauguration of Aljaksandr Lukashenka. In the aftermath of the protest, he was accused of partaking in mass riots. The judge sentenced him to six years in prison. Today, I call for the immediate release of Vital. The right to join peaceful protests and the freedom of expression must be respected under any circumstances. Human and civil rights are non-negotiable. Trials must be fair, transparent and embedded in existing legislation. Freedom to Vital and all the other political prisoners in Belarus who raised their voices against the electoral fraud!”
Aliaksei Kudasau was detained on 1 July 2021. A criminal case against him under four articles of the Criminal Code was brought to court: “organization of riots” (Art. 293), “creation of an extremist group” (Art. 361-1), “incitement to hatred” (Art. 130) and insulting a government official (Art. 369). However, since the trial was held in closed court, it is unknown what exactly Kudasau was accused of. On 25 April 2022, he was sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment.
Ophelia Nick, Member of the German Bundestag, has taken on the godparenthood for Pavel Yukhnevich and says: “Aliaksei Kudasau from Minsk/Belarus was sentenced to 11 years in prison in a dubious trial. He was arrested exactly one year ago! Since then, a young man who stood up for his ideas of a more just and open society has been incarcerated. For me, this godparenthood is therefore a visible sign of my solidarity with Aliaksei, but also with all those who are politically persecuted and convicted worldwide. As long as people can still be imprisoned for their freedom of expression, there is work to be done for all genuine supporters of democracy. My thoughts are with Aliaksei.”