As part of our solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Gabriela Heinrich (German Bundestag, Social Democratic Party), Barry Ward (Ireland, Seanad Éireann, Fine Gael) and Bill Esterson (UK, House of Commons, Labour Party) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Yanina Malash, an activist of the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers, was arrested on 19 April 2022 and is now charged with Art. 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code (“group actions that grossly violate public order”).
Gabriela Heinrich, former godparent of the now released Yahor Suhoidz and Member of the German Bundestag, has taken on the godparenthood for Yanina Malash. She points out: “More than two years after the fraudulent presidential election in Belarus, the climate of repression in the country continues. Opposition members, trade unionists and human rights activists are still at risk of being arbitrarily arrested, and civil society organizations are under immense pressure. The people in Belarus still need our attention and solidarity. This also applies to the free trade unionist Yanina Malash. Her arrest is not an unusual case: trade union leaders who openly criticize the Belarusian regime are repeatedly the target of politically motivated arrests. I call on Alexander Lukashenko to release Yanina Malash and all other political prisoners immediately! The repression in the country must finally come to an end.”
Uladzimir Niapomniashchykh is a veteran opposition activist and was detained on 23 December 2020. He was sentenced on 7 April 2021 to two years and six months in prison for publicly insulting a prosecutor (Art. 369, “Insulting a government official”).
Barry Ward, Member of the Seanad Éireann, has taken on the godparenthood for Uladzimir Niapomniashchykh and states: “I think it is really important to maintain the continuing suppression of democracy activists in Belarus on the national news agenda. Hundreds of people remain in prison in Belarus for exercising their human right to freedom of expression through protest and it is important that politicians internationally show their commitment to support protesters and those who stand up to authoritarianism. I am happy to “adopt” Uladzimir Niapomniashchykh to show my solidarity with his cause, and that of all Belarussians, against the illegitimate regime of Aleksandr Lukashenko, and I encourage all parliamentarians around the world to take similar steps.”
Aliaksandr Reznik was arrested on 29 October 2020 and sentenced on 19 July 2021 to eight years in prison under Article 293 (“Participation in riots”).
Bill Esterson, Member of the House of Commons, has taken on the godparenthood for Aliaksandr Reznik and announces: “I stand by you, Aliaksandr Reznik. Exercising his right to freedom of assembly and speech, Aliaksandr Reznik was arrested and imprisoned – as were many others. Protestors in Belarus demand what we often take for granted: human and civil rights as well as free elections. I fully support these demands, and I support Aliaksandr Reznik and urge the Belarusian authorities to release him!”