Foto: Susi Knoll & Florian Jaenicke

Franz Thoennes (SPD) / Photo: Susi Knoll & Florian Jaenicke

On the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the conviction of Mikalai Statkevich, presidential contender in 2010 and sentenced to 6 years in prison on 26 May 2011, Franz Thoennes (Social Democratic Party of Germany), Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German Bundestag and Prisoner’s Godparent for Nicolai Statkevich since 2011, stated:

„Since the beginning of May 2015 alarming information from the Belarussian city of Schklow has been spreading among human rights activists in Belarus, Germany and Europe. The former social-democratic presidential candidate Mikalai Statkevich, who was sentenced to six years in prison in 2011 and was interned in the colony of Schklow until recently, has been convicted, in a secret sitting of the court, to serve the rest of his time under aggravated conditions, and was taken back to Mogiljow. Many alleged violations against the internal regulation of the prison in Schklow have been stated as the reason.

This news caused great concern for me as the sponsor of Mikalai Statkevich, because due to this judgement, the Belarussian prison and justice system continues to exert excessive pressure on prisoners convicted for political reasons. Over and over again, justice in this country shows a total disregard for human rights and Mikalai Statkevich’s right to a fair trial. The administrative chicaneries as well as the ethical, psychological and physical abuses he has been and will be exposed to have to stop. But unfortunately following this decision, unfounded and arbitrary jurisdiction continues.

Mikalai Statkevich

Mikalai Statkevich

In the opinion of Germany and the European Union, such behavior is absolutely unacceptable and vociferously condemned. Release of all political prisoners in Belarus, their rehabilitation and the termination of political repression is required to normalize relations between the European Community of States and the Republic of Belarus. Unfortunately the court decision of early May has undermined this requirement. My thoughts are with Mikalai Statkevich, his wife and his family. With them I declare my solidarity.

In addition, on this, the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment, I urge people to sign the petition initiated on, to release all political prisoners in Belarus. President Lukashenka has to understand that the remaining six political prisoners are not forgotten.“

The Prisoner’s Godparenthood campaign for political prisoners in Belarus was initiated by Libereco to support the prisoners and their relatives. Belarusian and international human rights organisations regard Mikalai Statkevich as a prisoner of conscience and are calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Update 22.08.2015: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka released all political prisoners.