As part of Libereco’s #WeStandBYyou solidarity campaign, Isabel Santos (European Parliament, Partido Socialista, Portugal), Frances Fitzgerald (European Parliament, Fine Gael, Ireland) and Baroness Massey of Darwen (House of Lords, Labour Party, UK) are taking over godparenthoods of political prisoners in Belarus.
Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk is an opposition activist from Brest. She was arrested on January 3, 2021. The security forces broke open the door of her apartment, searched it and confiscated a number of things. The activist was charged under Article 364 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (violence against a police officer) for scratching one of the police officers who searched her apartment. Later, she was also charged with insulting the President (Article 368 of the Criminal Code of Belarus) and a representative of the authorities (Article 369). During her detention, she was taken to a punishment cell several times; she complained of psychological and physical pressure. On June 9, 2021, the court of the Maskoŭski district of Brest sentenced Sharenda-Panasiuk to two years in a penal colony.
Isabel Santos, Member of the European Parliament, has taken on the sponsorship of Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk and states: «I stand with Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk. Nobody should be jailed for defending freedom. Everyone should be free to express their opinions and have the right to disagree with oppressive governments. The arrest, trial and imprisonment of Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk are, as she said during her trial, “not legal and should not be recognized”. Mr. Lukashenko, release Palina and all the other political prisoners!»
Uladzimir Malakhouski from Viciebsk is a member of the BPF party and an election observer. According to the indictment under Article 364 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (violence against the police), Uladzimir Malakhouski attempted to injure various parts of a police officer’s body with blows, damaged his uniform, took a police badge, and later sprayed pepper gas in the direction of the police officers during the arrest and in the police bus. Malakhouski pleaded not guilty in court. He was sentenced on March 1, 2021, in the Pieršamajski District Court in Viciebsk. Judge Tatsiana Rodzina found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to 3 years and 6 months in a penal colony. Malakhouski is suffering from cancer.
Frances Fitzgerald, member oft he European Parliament, has taken on the sponsorship of Uladzimir Malakhouski, stating: «I am taking part in Libereco’s campaign to adopt a political prisoner because I condemn the violence of the Lukashenka regime and the repression of peaceful protesters. I continue to support the people of Belarus and I am sponsoring Uladzimir Malakhouski, who has been sentenced to three years and half years imprisonment in a general-security penal colony. He is just one of many political prisoners being detained for exercising their right to participate in political activities. Sadly Uldadzimir is also suffering from a serious illness at this time and should experience the same freedoms and rights as all people across Europe today.»
Andrei Shauchuk is a demonstrator convicted under Article 342 (active participation in group actions grossly violating public order) and Article 364 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (violence against a police officer). The charges were based on his participation in the demonstration on election night on August 9, 2020 in Žlobin. On March 22, 2021, the Žlobin District Court sentenced Shauchuk to two and a half years in a penal colony.
Baroness Massey of Darwen, a member of the British House of Lords, has adopted Andrei Shauchuk, stating: «Last year I was shocked to see the way in which the Belarusian authorities acted in the August elections, so I am pleased to become the godparent of Andrei Shauchuk. I express my concern for the welfare of Andrei Shauchuk and call for his release. Andrei has been given a 2.5 year prison sentence, as part of wide-ranging oppression and brutal treatment of peaceful protestors in Belarus. The Belarusian authorities should respect human rights and people’s right to peaceful protest.»