Since summer 2020, Belarus has been marked by violence and repression against its own people. On Human Rights Day on 10 December 2020, 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 1400 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, please feel free to write to one of the less prominent prisoners. 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.
Where can I get addresses of political prisoners?
- You can find all addresses updated daily as well as English-language background information on each case on the website of our Belarusian partner organisation Viasna: prisoners.spring96.org (table view).
- Important: You get the name and address in Cyrillic if you click on the description of a prisoner in Russian or Belarusian (top right, RU or BE).
What should I bear in mind when writing?
- Please use the spelling of the address exactly as shown in the example below, all details (except the country) should be written in Cyrillic:
ул. Антошкина, 3
246035, г. Гомель
REPUBLIC OF BELARUS
- The postcards and letters have to be written in Russian or Belarusian, otherwise they will not reach the prisoners.
- Avoid words like “freedom” or “fight” so that the letters are not sorted out by the censors. Short texts are also better than long ones.
- You can, but do not have to, write your return address on the letter or postcard.
- Do not forgot to put a postage stamp on the letter or postcard.
- To give the card a personal touch, write by hand if possible. Take one that you already have at home or buy one, for example from your home town. We keep getting feedback that this gesture is very important for the prisoners and gives them courage.
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 send your letter via the website Vkletochku.org (available in English and Russian). Volunteers in Belarus will translate your text, create a cover letter, and send it to the prisoner you had selected. Replies will be sent to you as a scan by email. To cover the costs of envelopes and postage, you can also support this purely voluntary project financially.
- The Solidarity Postcards Atelier offers a similar service. Using a form, you can send a message in English or Belarusian to a political prisoner. The initiative, started by students of the Belarusian Human Rights School and the Belarusian Students’s Association, then writes your text by hand on a postcard and sends it by post to Belarus. You can also support the initiative financially.
- You can also 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. 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 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 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 2020, at the start of our postcard campaign, the number had already 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 2020. 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.