As part of our solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Kevin Kühnert (German Bundestag, Social Democratic Party), Markéta Gregorová (European Parliament, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, Czechia) and Céline Widmer (Swiss National Council, Social Democratic Party) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Andrey Dzmitryeu, a former presidential candidate and co-chair of the opposition party “Tell the truth”, is one of the most prominent political prisoners in Belarus. He was arrested on 11 January 2023 after peacefully participating in demonstrations against the regime. On 5 April 2023, the Belarusian court sentenced him to 1 ½ years’ imprisonment in a penal colony under Art. 342 (“organisation of or participation in action grossly violating public order”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code.
Kevin Kühnert, Member of the German Bundestag and Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party, is deeply moved by the fate of opposition politician Andrey Dzmitryeu and has taken on a political godparenthood for him. Kühnert explains: “For years, the Lukashenko regime in Belarus has been taking increasingly rigorous action against its countless critics. The fact that with the former presidential candidate Dzmitryeu another prominent personality is now banished to prison, who in 2020 had courageously dared to run against the incumbent dictator in the so-called election, is scandalous and at the same time was to be expected. Lukashenko has long been able to defend himself against his democratic opponents only through brutal repression. Andrey Dzmitryeu represents at least 1,500 political prisoners in Belarus. With my political godparenthood for Andrey Dzmitryeu, I want to document that the political prisoners are not forgotten and can rely on international support. We take very close note of the repression against broad sections of the Belarusian population. The diverse democratic civil society in Belarus, which I had the opportunity to meet during several meetings and visits, has my full solidarity and appreciation for their courageous and selfless struggle for democracy and human rights.”
Tatsiana Karpovich was arrested on 17 November 2021 and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment on 23 December 2021 in a closed trial under Art. 130 (“incitement to hatred”). She is accused of spreading personal information about law enforcement officers and judges on a Telegram channel. She is also on the KGB list of alleged terrorists.
Markéta Gregorová, Member of the European Parliament and former godparent of Kasia Budzko, has taken on the godparenthood for Tatsiana Karpovich and emphasises: “I have spoken about political prisoners in Belarus many times in the European Parliament’s plenary now. Although Kasia Budzko has been finally released, still more and more people are detained, their lives forsibly stopped in prison cells. But I would never say that their lives are wasted. Tatsiana Karpovich and other victims of Lukashenka’s regime are integral part of resistance to such a regime, and I fiercely believe that their example will cause Lukashenka’s fall.“
Aliaksei Melnikau was arrested on 9 August 2020 for his participation in the protests and later sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment in a maximum security prison in a closed trial under Art. 293-2 (“Participation in riots”), Art. 295 (“Illegal acts against firearms, ammunition and explosives”) and Art. 295-3 (“Illegal acts in relation to objects whose action is based on the use of flammable substances”).
Céline Widmer, Member of the Swiss National Council and former godparent of Volha Filatchankava, who has been released in the meantime, has taken on the godparenthood for Aliaksei Melnikau and declares: “Aliaksei Melnikau is just one of over 1,400 political prisoners in Belarus who have been imprisoned and sentenced to disproportionately high prison terms for their commitment to the cause of freedom of expression and assembly. I deeply condemn this kind of arbitrary justice and stand in solidarity with all politically oppressed people in Belarus. Social security is non-negotiable and must be secured, especially in view of fundamental human rights. I therefore call on the Belarusian government to guarantee this and to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally.”