As part of the solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou of Libereco, members of the Bundestag Saskia Esken (SPD), Gisela Maderla (CDU) and Gerhard Zickenheiner (Bündnis90/DieGrünen) have taken over a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus. 

Saskia Esken

Uladzislau Yeustsihneyeu was sentenced on 29 September to 3 years and 3 months in prison under Article 363 of the Belarusian Criminal Code. He is accused of violently resisting the police during the arrest of peaceful demonstrators at a rally held on 19 June at Maladziečna.

Saskia Esken, the leader of the SPD, has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood of Uladzislau Yeustsihneyeu. She said: “The protest of the people for more democracy and freedom in Belarus is unbroken and diverse. It is taking place in the streets, in universities and in factories. Women and men, young and old, are campaigning for change throughout the country. One of them is 25-year-old Uladzislau Yeustsihneyeu from the city Maladziečna, who was arrested during a peaceful demonstration in June, beaten by security forces and sentenced to over three years in prison. I call for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Belarus. For their extraordinary courage and conviction, the democrats in Belarus have been awarded this year’s European Parliament Sakharov Prize, which is fully deserved”.

Gisela Maderla

Mikhail Zhamchuzhny is a human rights activist and the longest serving political prisoner in Belarus. He was sentenced on 10 July 2015 to 6.5 years imprisonment in a penal colony under a strict regime. The sentence imposed also includes a ban on holding positions related to the performance of organisational and administrative tasks for a period of 2 years and 8 months.

Gisela Maderla, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag, on the occasion of taking over her godparenthood for Mikhail Zhamchuzhny, stated: “I demand the immediate release of the political prisoner Mikhail Zhamchuzhny. Mr. Zhamchuzhny is a human rights activist who was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison in 2015. There he is suffering in unacceptable conditions and is a recurrent victim of violence and harassment. I call on the regime in Belarus to release him immediately”.

Gerhard Zickenheiner

Uladzislau Karetski is a volunteer at the campaign headquarters of presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka. He has been charged under Article 293 of the Belarusian Criminal Code (“organisation of mass unrest”) and is detained in KGB prison.

Gerhard Zickenheiner, member of the European Union Affairs Committee in the German Bundestag, has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood of Uladzislau Karetski. He declared: “#WeStandByYou – My great respect goes to all those courageous people in Belarus who are not intimidated by the reprisals, violence and state terror of the Lukashenka regime and who have been taking to the streets for weeks for democracy, freedom and free elections. I call for an immediate end to the violence and the unconditional release of all political prisoners in Belarus. One of them is Uladzislau Karetski, whom I have adopted through the NGO “Libereco”. Like so many demonstrators, he was arrested shortly after the presidential election – although Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights expressly guarantees freedom of assembly. I would like to express my solidarity with and appeal to civil society and political prisoners in Belarus: We are with you, you are not alone!”