As part of Libereco’s solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Brando Benifei (European Parliament, Partito Democratico, Italy), Kassem Taher Saleh (German Bundestag, Alliance 90/The Greens) and Carl-Julius Cronenberg (German Bundestag, Free Democratic Party) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Siarhei Hlebka was arrested on 2 March and is associated with a group known as “Railway Guerrillas”. They have allegedly been trying to disrupt the passage of Russian troops through Belarus by damaging railway infrastructure.
Brando Benifei is a member of the European Parliament representing Italy. As the first godparent of the #WeStandBYyou campaign from Italy, he has taken over the godparenthood for Siarhei Hlebka and states: “I call for the immediate release of the Belarusian political prisoner Siarhei Hlebka arrested on 2nd of February 2022. Siarhei tried to block the railways in order to prevent the Russian military trains from passing through and for this reason the collaborationist regime of Lukashenko deprived him of his freedom. The terrible war taking place in Ukraine must not distract the European union from the extremely serious human rights violations occurring every day in Belarus. #WeStandBYyou”
Aliaksandr Trotski has been imprisoned since 12 August 2020. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for alleged “attempted murder of a police officer” (Article 362).
Kassem Taher Saleh, member of the German Bundestag for the Alliance 90/The Greens, has taken on the godparenthood of Aliaksandr Trotski and explains: “In this state of injustice, alleged police officers walk around masked like robbers and wear no recognisable badges or uniform. When they then threaten passers-by and motorists with weapons, it is completely understandable that someone reacts with panic and fears for his/her life. The accusation of attempted murder against Aliaksandr Trotski of such a hooded alleged police officer serves as a deterrent and is purely politically motivated. Where the police can do as they please without following rules and being held accountable for misconduct, they go from being the extended arm of the rule of law to being the extended arm of the arbitrary dictator. In Germany, Aliaksandr’s behaviour would be perfectly legitimate self-defence in a dangerous situation. In Belarus, he is in prison for it. He is thus one of the many innocent political prisoners. With these brutal tactics, Lukashenka intimidates and muzzles his population. Aliaksandr Trotski and all the others must be released immediately!”
Uladzimir Rubasheuski has been imprisoned since 29 August 2020. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment for “participating in riots” (Art. 293).
Carl-Julius Cronenberg, member of the German Bundestag, has taken on the godparenthood of Rubasheuski and states: “Uladzimir Rubasheuski has been sentenced to four years imprisonment for his “participation in protests”. The physical abuse he suffered during his arrest is appalling. Torture and barbarity are commonplace in Belarusian prisons. The Lukashenko regime suppresses citizens, their courage and their voices in the peaceful struggle for a free society. Therefore, it is a matter of course for me to set a sign of solidarity through this godparenthood. I call on Lukashenko to release Uladzimir Rubasheuski and all political prisoners from prison immediately.”