As part of Libereco’s solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Sabine Grützmacher (German Bundestag, Alliance 90/The Greens), Rachael Maskell (UK Parliament, Labour Party) and Mareike Wulf (German Bundestag, Christian Democratic Union) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Dzmitry Ivashkou is a member of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s initiative group. He was arrested during a peaceful protest in Homiel on 27 September 2020. On 4 May 2021 he was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment for “participating in protests” (Criminal Code, Art. 293) and “taking over buildings and structures” (Art. 292).
Sabine Grützmacher is a member of the German Bundestag for the Alliance 90/The Greens. She has taken over the godparenthood of Ivashkou from retired MP Karl Lamers and states: “The situation in Belarus shows us what it really means to live in an unfree regime, where freedom of speech and freedom of the press are denied and political engagement is answered with imprisonment. As a member of Svetlana Tikhanovskayas nomination team, Dzmitry Ivashkou has campaigned for political change in Belarus. As part of the #WeStandBYyou campaign for political prisoners in Belarus, I become his godparent. I call for the release of Dzmitry Ivashkou and stand by all those who stand up for freedom, democracy and human rights in Belarus!”
Vladimir Zhuravko was an employee of the state factory “Grodno Azot”. He was arrested on 18 September 2021 in the context of a trial for strikes at various state enterprises. He is charged with alleged “high treason” (Criminal Code, Art. 356).
Rachael Maskell is a Labour MP in the UK Parliament. She has become the godparent of Vladimir Zhuravko and demands: “I believe that people should have the ability to speak honestly and freely should they be in disagreement with the authorities. Vladimir Zhuravko was a former operator of the Ammonia-3 workshop at Grodno Azot in one of the Belarusian factories. In these factories workers took industrial actions, as part of the Rabochy Rukh labour rights group, to advance the conditions of workers. Workers rights are human rights and must be upheld. Vladimir joins thousands of people who have been put in prison for exercising their rights. The authorities in Belarus must release him and others to demonstrate that they comply with the UN Convention on Human Rights, and I trust that they will do so rapidly.”
Viachaslau Rahashchuk is a taxi driver and was arrested in Pinsk on 10 August 2020. In the days following his arrest he was beaten and denied medical assistance. He was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment for “participation in riots” (Criminal Code, Art. 293).
Mareike Wulf is a member of the German Bundestag (Christian Democratic Union) and of the Committee on Labour and Social Affairs. She took over the godparenthood of Rahashchuk from retiring MP Heribert Hirte and states: “The story of Viachaslau Rahashchuk is frightening: arbitrary arrest, a draconian prison sentence based on contrived charges, followed by severe torture and denial of medical assistance. This is the reality in Belarus under the leadership of ruler Lukashenko – in the middle of Europe in the 21st century. Therefore, it is important to me to draw attention to the grave abuses even after the brutal suppression of the protests of the democracy movement,” says Wulf. “I call on the Belarusian authorities to release Viachaslau Rahashchuk and all other political prisoners immediately and unharmed.”