As part of Libereco’s solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Kassem Taher Saleh (German Bundestag, Alliance 90/The Greens), Lukas Mandl (European Parliament, European People’s Party; Austrian People’s Party) and Jamie Stone (UK Parliament, Liberal Democrats) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Ala Lapatka worked at the independent news portal TUT.BY, against which a case was opened on 18 May 2021 for alleged “evasion of taxes and fees” (Criminal Code, Art. 243). Lapatka was arrested as a suspect on 18 May.
Kassem Taher Saleh, member of the German Bundestag, has taken on the godparenthood of Ala Lapatka and states: “Freedom of the press and media is the fourth pillar of democracy and thus particularly worthy of protection. Especially in an autocratically and repressively ruled country, it is of enormous importance that journalists can report independently and expose the machinations of the dictator. One of these courageous media workers is Ala Lapatka, who was one of the last independent reporters with her work at the news portal TUT.BY. This made her a thorn in the side of the regime. In May, a flimsy case was opened for alleged tax evasion – a tried and tested means of intimidation. After the offices were searched, Ala Lapatka was arrested and has been in detention without charge ever since. The conditions in prison are catastrophic. The Lukashenko regime must release Ala Lapatka and the many other political prisoners immediately! The violence against peaceful demonstrators must be dealt with. And democratic elections are finally needed in Belarus.”
Henadz Mazheika worked as a journalist in the Belarusian office of the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. He was arrested on 1 October 2021 for allegedly “insulting a government official” (Criminal Code, Art. 369) and “incitement to hatred” (Art. 130).
Lukas Mandl, Member of the European Parliament and the Committee on Justice and Home Affairs, commented his godparenthood: “Henadz Mazheika was arrested for exercising his right to freedom of expression. The Belarusian regime’s brutal crackdown on critics inside the country and its hybrid warfare against the European Union are absolutely unacceptable and show what little value human lives have for dictator Lukashenko. The fact that Mr Mazheika was arrested in Moscow also shows once again the problematic role of the Russian leadership. I demand the immediate release of Henadz Mazheika and all other political prisoners.”
Dzmitry Tur was arrested on 11 February 2021. On 12 August 2021, he was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for “participation in riots” (Criminal Code, Art. 293).
Jamie Stone is a Member of the UK Parliament for the Liberal Democrats and the party spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. He comments his godparenthoofd of Dzmitry Tur as follows: “I am honoured to adopt the brave Dzmitry Tur and I call for his immediate release. It is appalling that he has been wrongfully detained for his participation in so-called ‘riots’. Belarus is clearly engaging in the suppression of what should be free and fair protest.
The charges that have been brought against Dzmitry Tur and other Belarusian civilians are absurd. Along with my Liberal Democrat colleagues, I urge the government of Belarus to respect its citizens’ rights to free speech and protest, and to release those who have been wrongly imprisoned.”