Since summer, Belarus has been marked by violence and repression against its own people. On Human Rights Day on 10 December, Libereco has launched a postcard campaign for all political prisoners in Belarus. Join us and write a postcard or a letter to the neighbouring country of the EU!
The campaign will show the currently over 350 political prisoners that we are thinking about them. At the same time, every postcard sends a signal to the authoritarian regime, too: That human rights violations in Belarus will not be tolerated and will be closely monitored abroad. The more people participate, the better!
To ensure that each of the many political prisoners receives postcards and letters, we have developed a random generator (last updated on 16 April) that assigns a different prisoner to each person taking part. Each time you reload this page, you will be offered a different political prisoner to write to.
Pavel Mankinenka is a 25-year-old software engineer from Minsk. He was accused of "resisting police officers Yury Chyrkou and Valiantsin Kazlouski while guarding public order during an unauthorized mass event" at about 8 pm on September 5 in an underground passage of the Puškinskaja metro. Pavel allegedly sprayed pepper gas twice, which "caused chemical burns to the victims, and beat them with an unidentified object, pushed, tried to escape, and, while rolling down the flight of stairs, inflicted at least 8 hemorrhages in the knee, ear, shoulder, hand and forearm of the victims, by which committed a crime under Article 364 of the Criminal Code." The Minsk resident pleaded guilty. In court, he explained that he went to the grassroots memorial to killed protester Aliaksandr Taraikouski to express his disagreement with the acts of violence against his fellow citizens in August. Mankinenka was detained a week later and sentenced to a short term of administrative detention for displaying a white-red-white flag during the protest. He also faced criminal charges. On November 18, Judge Andrei Mlechka of the Frunzienski District Court of Misnk sentenced Pavel Mankinenka to four years in prison.
Следственная тюрьма №8
ул. Советская, 22А
222163, г. Жодино
REPUBLIC OF BELARUS
What do I have to bear in mind when writing?
- Please use the spelling of the address exactly as shown above.
- The postcards have to be written in Russian or Belarusian, otherwise the postcard will not reach the prisoners.
- Sending a postcard from Germany to Belarus costs 0.95 Euro, a letter 1.10 Euro.
- Sending a postcard or a letter from Switzerland to Belarus costs 1.50 Franc in both cases.
- To give the card a personal touch, write by hand if possible.
How can I participate in the campaign?
- Anyone can send a postcard to Belarus. Take one that you already have at home or buy one, for example from your city. We keep getting feedback that this gesture is very important for the prisoners and gives them courage.
- Put a picture with you and your postcard on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and use the hashtag #WeStandBYyou. Take a selfie while writing the card or before you drop it in the mailbox. You can also send us the photo by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
My knowledge of Russian or Belarusian is limited? Don’t worry!
- Online translation services like Google Translate or DeepL do a decent job, especially with simple and short sentences. It is not the grammar that counts, but the gesture!
- You can be as creative as you like: You don’t have to use words, you can also draw something, for example.
- Alternatively, you can use one of the following templates and just copy the message.
Russian: Я пишу вам из другой страны и хочу, чтобы вы знали, что и за пределами Беларуси помнят и думают о вас и о ваших соратниках в борьбе за свободу. Посылаю вам эту открытку в знак солидарности с вами. Пожалуйста, не оставляйте надежду даже в эти сложные времена. Я разделяю вашу веру в то, что скоро все изменится к лучшему. Желаю вам силы и мужества! Belarusian: Я пішу вам з іншай краіны і хачу, каб вы ведалі, што і па-за межамі Беларусі пра вас і вашых паплечнікаў у барацьбе за сввбоду памятаюць! Дасылаю вам гэтую паштоўку як знак салідарнасці з вамі. Калі ласка, не пакідайце веру ў перамены навт у гэты складаны час. Я падзяляю вашу веру ў тое, што хутка ўсе зменіцца да лепшага. Жадаю вам моцы і мужнасці! Translation: I am writing to you from abroad to let you know that you, your fellow prisoners and the struggle in your country are not forgotten beyond Belarus. I am sending this card to express my solidarity with you and to let you know I am thinking of you. Please keep your hopes up even though the times are though. I am sharing your hope that things will turn for the better soon. Wishing you much courage and strength!
The number of long-term detainees is rising steadily
In the first days of the protests against Lukashenka’s self-proclaimed victory, thousands of people were arrested and the regime’s violence resulted in deaths and injuries on the streets. When the first prisoners were released a few days later, the first reports of severe torture in Belarusian prisons reached the outside world.
Since August 2020, more than 30,000 people have been detained or protested peacefully for change and new democratic elections. However, not all of them have been released after a short time.
The number of political prisoners was already at 20 prior to the election. By the beginning of December, the number had risen to over 160 people. The political prisoners have already been unlawfully behind bars for several months. Their arrests are clearly politically motivated, while the sentences are disproportionately high. They are also denied independent legal counsel. Furthermore, many human rights defenders deplore inhumane accommodation and insufficient care for the detainees.
Prior to the election of the Belarusian president, the regime mainly arrested people who participated in or reported on the election campaign for opposition candidates. Among the 160 political prisoners are bloggers, journalists, members of the Coordination Council, journalists, students and human rights defenders – many of them are central figures of the protest. Some of them have been known to the regime for a long time and are therefore unpopular persons. The goals behind this are simple: to intimidate people in order to nip the protest in the bud.
“It is a gift to receive a letter from abroad”
“The Belarusian people are tired”, said Svetlana Tikhanovskaya during her visit to the Netherlands in November. Showing solidarity and giving hope is therefore the order of the day. Everyone can make a contribution. Tikhanovskaya, whose husband is one of the political prisoners in Belarus, said: “People in prison are as happy as a child when they receive a card. It is a gift to receive a letter from abroad. It shows that Europe is on our side”.
For more information on the situation in Belarus, you can visit the website of our Belarusian partner organisation Viasna. On the website you will find information about the current political prisoners and their stories, as well as detailed information about the human rights situation in Belarus: www.spring96.org.