As part of the solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou of Libereco – Partnership for Human Rights, Members of the German Parliament Wiebke Esdar (SPD), Frank Heinrich (CDU) and Christian Petry (SPD) have taken over a prisoner’s godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus and calling for their immediate and unconditional release.

Wiebke Esdar

Yulia Shardyka is chief accountant of the software company PandaDoc and was arrested on 2 September. Her home and office were searched on the same day. The founder of PandaDoc, Mikita Mikada, had previously publicly condemned the political repression in Belarus and collected donations for members of the security forces who refused to carry out criminal orders and therefore lost their jobs. Several PandaDoc employees were subsequently arrested for this activity. Yulia Shardyka was charged on 11 September under Article 209 of the Belarusian Criminal Code for alleged “fraud by an organised group or on a large scale”.

Wiebke Esdar, member of the German Bundestag and member of the party executive of the SPD, has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood for Yulia Shardyka and declared: “I demand freedom for Yulia Shardyka and all political prisoners in Belarus. Because anyone who, like Yulia, stands up for the rule of law and fair trials makes a valuable contribution to democracy and human rights. That the dictator Alexander Lukashenka has people like her arrested shows only two things: fear and weakness. Because the Belarusian regime fears the will of its own people. All the more reason why the people there now need our solidarity and support. Especially the many women who so courageously stand up to those in power. Svaboda!”

Frank Heinrich

Yury Vaskrasenski is a businessman and coordinator of the election campaign team of presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka. He was arrested on 12 August. The next day, he was described as an organiser of protests in the capital district of Uruchcha in a programme broadcast on state television. He was charged under Article 293 (“Participation in mass riots”) and Article 310 (“Deliberate blocking of transport links”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code.

Frank Heinrich, member of the Committee for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid in the German Bundestag (CDU), has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood for Yury Vaskrasenski. He said: “Freedom of assembly is a valuable fundamental right – enshrined, inter alia, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. I therefore strongly condemn the arrest of peaceful demonstrators. As far as I know, Yury Vaskrasenski was one of those who worked peacefully for change and I consider his arrest to be politically motivated because of his oppositional activities. I therefore call for his immediate release”.

Christian Petry

Ihar Yarmolau is a volunteer at the campaign headquarters of presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka. According to his parents, he was beaten on his arrest. He was hospitalised and operated on. On 18 August he was transferred to the KGB pre trial prison. He faces charges under Article 293 (“participation in mass riots”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code.

Christian Petry, European policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, said on the occasion of his taking over his prisoner’s godparenthood for Ihar Yarmolau: “For many weeks, thousands of people have been taking to the streets in Belarus to protest against the regime, the electoral fraud in August, the violence and the oppression of civil society. By taking over the symbolic godparenthood of Ihar Yarmolau, as a politically responsible person in Germany, I want to help and ensure that the fate of political prisoners in Belarus continues to receive the necessary attention in Germany.  I strongly support the people’s call for respect for human rights, the creation of democratic structures and new democratic elections and call for the release of all political prisoners in Belarus!”