As part of our solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Ben Chikha (Belgian Senate, Groen), Matthias Ecke (Germany, European Parliament, Social Democratic Party) and Michael Georg Link (German Bundestag, Free Democratic Party) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Anastasiya Loika, a human rights defender, was arrested on 28 October 2022 and was charged under Art. 342 (“organization of or participation in acts grossly violating public order”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code. Since her arrest, she has been in repeatedly prolonged administrative detention.
Fourat Ben Chikha, Member of the Belgian Senate, has taken on the godparenthood for Anastasiya Loika and announces: “Brave young women are transforming the world. The answer of the Belarusian authoritarian regime is to put those who bravely speak out against human rights violations in prison. I stand by you, Anastasya Loika and will keep fighting for your, and all other political prisoners immediate release. Thank you Libereco for this godparentcampaign.”
Aliaksei Shyshkavets was detained on 2 March 2022 for allegedly “joining the extremist formation BYPOL” and blocking the railroad tracks. On 12 October 2022 he was convicted under Art. 289 (“Act of terrorism”) and Art. 361 (“Participation or preparing to participate in hostilities on foreign soil”) and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Matthias Ecke, Member of the European Parliament, has taken on the godparenthood of Aliaksei Shyshkavets and states: “In order to prevent the import of Russian military equipment from Belarusian territory, he disrupted railway traffic as a member of the “Rail Guerrilla”. For this he has now been sentenced to 11 years in prison. The sentence against Aliaksei Shyshkavets must be revised and he must be given a fair trial. An overwhelming majority of the Belarusian population is against their country’s participation in the war in Ukraine. The acts of sabotage on the railway network dramatically demonstrate this. These acts of desperation are an expression of the political helplessness of the population in the face of Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s authoritarian state. Lukashenka uses brutal punishments for unwelcome expressions of opinion and activism as an instrument of power against his own population, whose democratic spirit he is trying to break. I stand in solidarity with the Belarusian people, with the thousands of detainees and people exiled who have had to give up their freedom and their homeland for democracy.”
Aliaksandr Lopukh was detained on 24 March 2021 and sentenced to 5 ½ years of imprisonment in a penal colony on 6 July 2021 under Article 293 (“Participation in riots”).
Michael Georg Link, Member of the German Bundestag, has taken on the godparenthood of Aliaksandr Lopukh and declares: “Demonstrating for democracy and human rights is a basic right, not a crime. Nevertheless, Aliaksandr Lopukh was arrested for participating in the spontaneous protests after the rigged presidential election on 9 August 2020. In this context, the results, in particular the electoral success of incumbent Lukashenko, rightly aroused enormous distrust among the population. Aliaksandr Lopukh has shown incredible courage, protesting for peace and freedom in Belarus despite constant and violent repression by the Belarusian government. His prison sentence of 5.5 years is pure farce and is emblematic of many other supporters of the democracy movement who are unjustly held as political prisoners. I am happy to stand up for Aliaksandr Lopukh by taking on his godparenthood. I demand his release and that of all political prisoners in Belarus!“