As part of our solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Willie Rennie (Scottish Parliament, Liberal Democrats), Jasper van Dijk (Netherlands, Tweede Kamer, Socialist Party) and Jim O’Callaghan (Ireland, Dáil Éireann, Fianna Fáil) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Alena Malinouskaya, was detained on 31 January 2022 and sentenced to 4 years imprisonment on 20 September under article 339 of the Belarusian Criminal Code (“Disorderly Conduct”) for using the “Pahonya” coat of arms.
Willie Rennie, former godparent of the now released Volha Loika and Member of the Scottish Parliament, has taken on the godparenthood of Alena Malinouskaya and stresses: “I was moved by Alena’s story and lend my fulsome support to the cause of freedom for her. Cruel authoritarianism never wins out over the human spirit in the end. If we stand together Alena and so many others will be liberated.”
Andrei Herasimovich, a student of the Yanka Kupala State University in Hrodna, was arrested on 18 June 2021 and sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment under Art. 364 (“violence or threat of violence against the police”). According to the indictment, Herasimovich and four others had thrown paving stones and other objects at police vehicles in a group with other people. Andrei pleaded partially guilty.
Jasper van Dijk, member of the Dutch Tweede Kamer, has taken on the godparenthood of Andrei Herasimovich and states: “I strongly condemn the arrest of Andrei Herasimovich. I demand the immediate release of him and all other political prisoners in Belarus. Keeping political prisoners in Belarus is violating the most basic democratic and human rights. Belarus must immediately stop infringing on their citizens’ fundamental rights to freedom of opinion and freedom of press.”
Tsikhan Osipau was arrested on 14 August 2020 and sentenced to 11 years in prison on 30 July 2021 and later to an additional 7 months. He is charged under Art. 293 (“participation in mass disorder”), Art. 400 (“knowingly making a false report”) and Art. 362 (“attempted murder”) with knowingly participating in the 2020 Minsk protests in his unmarked car, disobeying police orders and ramming five soldiers while attempting to escape. According to the investigation, the man fled the scene and dumped the car in a nearby pond. To ensure an alibi, he called the police and reported the theft.
Jim O’Callaghan, Member of the Dáil Éireann, has taken on the godparenthood for Tsikhan Osipau and stresses: “Tsikhan Osipau is a political prisoner who has been jailed for 11 years and 7 months by the regime in Belarus. His imprisonment is a further example of how Belarus does not permit any political dissent. I support calls for Tsikhan’s immediate release and the establishment of democracy in Belarus.”