As part of the solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou of Libereco, members of the Bundestag Margit Stumpp (Bündnis90/DieGrünen), Heribert Hirte (CDU) and Barbara Hendricks (SPD)  have taken over a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus. 

Margit Stumpp

Ivan Komar is an anarchist who was sentenced to 7 years in prison in Minsk on 12 February 2020. He was accused of having thrown light bulbs filled with paint at the building of the Minsk City Court. He is also alleged to have tried to set fire to the door of the remand prison in Minsk. Ivan Komar denied his involvement in the actions and reported ill-treatment and pressure on him to force him to confess. The court failed to properly investigate Komar’s reports of coercion to testify, abuse and threats of torture. The sentence imposed on Ivan Komar must be described as excessive and disproportionate. On March 27, 2020 the Minsk City Court heard the convict’s appeal and reduced the term to 3 1/2 years.

Margit Stumpp, Member of the German Bundestag, has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood for Ivan Komar and declared: “Ivan Komar is one of many innocent political prisoners of the Lukashenka regime. He has peacefully worked for freedom of expression and for the release of political prisoners in Belarus. I deeply condemn the false accusations, intimidation and violence he has been subjected to. The Belarusian authorities must release him and all other political prisoners immediately. I am doing this out of solidarity with Ivan Komar and the Belarusian citizens.”

Heribert Hirte

Viachaslau Rahashchuk was arrested in Pinsk and beaten for three days after his arrest. He was charged under Article 293 (“participation in mass riots”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code. Viachaslau Rahashchuk’s state of health has unfortunately continued to deteriorate. He recently wrote this in a letter to his sister. His symptoms indicate serious problems with his internal organs. He still complains of headaches and dizziness, which is due to a head injury he suffered during his arrest.

Prof. Heribert Hirte is Deputy and acting Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection in the German Bundestag. On the occasion of taking over his prisoner’s godparenthood for Viachaslau Rahashchuk, he said: “I stand by Viachaslau Rahashchuk, who has demanded nothing more than that his vote counts for something. But in Lukashenka’s Belarus, Mr Rahashchuk was brutally beaten for this and imprisoned as a political prisoner. I am convinced that the call for democracy and freedom can no longer be suppressed in Belarus. The accusation that Mr Rahashchuk took part in “mass riots” because he was involved in democratic protests against an undemocratic process exposes the regime. I demand: Release Viachaslau Rahashchuk, give him medical care!”

Barbara Hendricks

Maryia Babovich was arrested on 9 September for drawing the sentence “We will not forget” on a pavement near Pushkinskaya metro station in Minsk. A few days later she was released, but was subsequently summoned to the police station and arrested again. She was charged under Article 339 (“hooliganism”) and Article 341 (“desecration of buildings and damage to property”).

Barbara Hendricks, former Federal Minister and Member of the German Bundestag, has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood for Maryia Babovich. She stated: “The arbitrary arrests and the draconian punishments for the smallest offences are further signs of the desperation with which Lukashenka is clinging to his power. I am especially in solidarity with the courageous women like Maryia Babovich, who initiate and support the protests. I fully endorse the core demands of the protest movement and call for an end to violence, the release of all political prisoners, Lukashenka’s resignation and new elections followed by a constitutional process. To the peaceful demonstrators in Belarus, I call out: “We stand by your side.”