As part of our #WeStandBYyou solidarity campaign, Ottmar von Holtz (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), Luiza Licina-Bode (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands) and Michael Sacher (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.

Ottmar von Holtz

Daniil Chaunakou was a member of the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers at the Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ). He was arrested on 17 November 2021 for “Violation of public order” under Art. 342. The expanded charges against Daniil also included allegedly “Creation of or participation in an extremist formation” (Art. 361-1) and “Endangering national security” (Article 361). The judge found Daniil guilty on all charges and sentenced him to 5 years’ imprisonment in a penal colony. 

Ottmar von Holtz, a Member of the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen fraction in the German Bundestag, has already taken on his third godparenthood. He explains his support for Daniil Chaunakou as follows: “For years, courageous Belarusians have been taking to the streets, speaking out, singing or writing to fight for democracy, freedom and human rights in their country. These people are aware of the high risk they are taking with their commitment, and they impress me deeply. Daniil Chaunakou rebelled against the unjust state of the dictator Lukashenka and was put behind bars by his arbitrary justice system; he deserves my full solidarity and recognition. We democrats have to stand together, look out for each other and support each other. That is why, as a member of the German Bundestag, I am taking on the godparenthood for Daniil Chaunakou. Freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of democracy and the rule of law; exercising it is not a crime. I call for the immediate and unconditional release of Daniil Chaunakou and all other political prisoners in Belarus.”


Luiza Licina-Bode

Aliaksandr Balonkin has been in custody since 11 August 2023. He worked as a design engineer at Naftan, a state-owned Belarusian oil refinery. Aliaksandr was deputy chairman of the independent trade union of Naftan employees and was arrested along with other union members. The arrest was based on the charge of allegedly “Endangering national security” (Article 361).

Luiza Licina-Bode is a SPD Member of the Bundestag, a member of the Legal Affairs Committee and a trade unionist herself. The fate of imprisoned trade unionists is therefore particularly close to her heart. That is why she has taken on the godparenthood for Aliaksandr Balonkin. She explains: “The situation for civil society in Belarus has deteriorated massively since the rigged presidential elections. For the democracy movement, for independent media, for human rights organisations. But above all for independent trade unions. Many have been forcibly dissolved, their leaders arbitrarily arrested and sentenced in show trials. This is also the case of Aliaksandr Balonkin. As a social democrat, it is particularly important for me to support free and independent trade unions. They are the guarantors of fair working conditions and fair wages. And they are an integral part of the democracy movement in Belarus! That is why we must fight to make independent trade union work possible again. That’s why I’m campaigning for the immediate release of Aliaksandr and his comrades. To Aliaksandr, to the Naftan trade union and to the Belarusian trade union movement, I say #WeStandBYyou!”


Michael Sacher

Henadz Drazdou is an artist and former leader of the artists’ association “Pahonia”. Henadz was arrested on 10 August 2022 and sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment for allegedly “Promoting extremist activities” (Art. 361-4). Henadz had been politically persecuted in previous years. He had previously been arrested in connection with an art action in 2012, together with Ales Pushkin, who died in custody in 2023, and was the subject of a heavy fine.

Michael Sacher is a Member of the Bundestag for Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and a deputy member of the Committee on Culture and the Media. He is going to be the godparent of Henadz Drazdou and he says: “I am deeply concerned about the situation of the Belarusian opposition and I have great respect for all those who openly oppose the Lukashenko regime. Henadz Drazdou is one of them. As an artist and former leader of the artists’ group Pahonia, he has been using art for years to promote an open society and a critical stance towards the regime. He also took part in the protests against Lukashenko’s re-election in 2020. Arrested in August 2022, he was sentenced to three years for “Promoting extremist activities”. Prison conditions are brutal. Some prisoners have already died. I take on the godparenthood for Henadz Drazdou and demand his immediate release as well as the release of all other political prisoners.”