As part of our solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Natalie Imboden (Swiss National Council, Greens), Max Lucks (German Bundestag, Alliance 90/The Greens) and Oliver Kaczmarek (German Bundestag, Social Democratic Party) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Siarhei Pliashkun was detained on 28 February 2022 and sentenced on 8 February 2023 under Art. 342 (“Organization of or participation in actions grossly violating public order”), Art. 341 (“Desecration of buildings and damage to property”), Art. 130 (“Incitement to hatred”), Art. 309 (“Intentional damage to a vehicle or communication lines”), Art. 295-3 (“Illegal actions in relation to objects which action is based on use of combustible substances”), Art. 289 (“Act of terrorism”) and Art. 361-4 (“Promotion of extremist activities”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code to 16 years penal colony.
Natalie Imboden, Member of the Swiss National Council, has taken on the godparenthood for Siarhei Pliashkun and states: “In order to prevent the passage of Russian military convoys and the transport of war material to Ukraine, Siarhei Pliashkun has risked everything. He tried to paralyse Belarusian participation in the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and was sentenced to 16 years in prison for this courageous act. I deeply criticise this decision of the Belarusian judiciary and call on Alexander Lukashenko to guarantee human rights, to stop Belarus’ participation in the war and to release Siarhei and all political prisoners immediately.”
Vital Melnik was arrested on 30 March 2022 and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment on 22 December 2022 under Art. 295 (“Unlawful acts with firearms, ammunition and explosives”), Art. 368 (“Insulting the president”), Art. 309 (“Intentionally damaging a vehicle or communication lines”) and Art. 289 (“Act of terrorism”). He is also on the KGB list of alleged terrorists.
Max Lucks, Member of the German Bundestag and former godparent of Ivan Andrushoits and Ivan Komar, has taken on his third godparenthood of Vital Melnik and states: “I strongly condemn the increasing numbers of unlawful political prisoners in Belarus and the massive attacks on freedom of assembly and expression in the country. Vital Melnik was sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment in maximum security for allegedly sabotaging a railway line, allegedly possessing weapons and making critical remarks about Lukashenko on public networks, in a closed trial. I am dismayed by the wanton injuries inflicted on him during the arrest! The trial in a closed court session with the exclusion of the public, observers and the independent press is a gross violation of the procedural rights of the accused. I stand in solidarity with Melnik’s relatives, demanding a fair trial and the immediate release of all political prisoners in Belarus! I reiterate my great solidarity with the courageous Belarusian civil society and the thousands of detainees who are fearlessly fighting for democracy and freedom in their homeland!”
Anastasiya Kukhta was engaged as a social activist and was arrested on 17 February 2022 during a search at her home. She was initially sentenced to administrative detention, but was never released and from 12 March 2022 was again in pre-trial detention on a new charge. On 11 November 2022, she was eventually sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment in a penal colony under Art. 342 (“Organization of or participation in actions that grossly violate public order”), Art. 361 (“Calls for actions aimed at harming national security”) and Art. 361-1 (“Creation of or participation in an extremist group”). She is also on the KGB list of alleged terrorists.
Oliver Kaczmarek, Member of the German Bundestag and former godparent of Viktoryia Hrankouskaya and Aliaksandr Vasilevich, has taken on the godparenthood for Anastasiya Kukhta and emphasises: “The UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus only warned at the beginning of March 2023 of a further deterioration of the already poor human rights situation in Belarus. The exercise of freedom of expression is systematically punished. Anastasiya Kukhta is one of the many innocent convicts who have been campaigning for freedom of expression, self-determination and democracy in Belarus. The right to freedom of expression is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Belarus’ ratification of this Covenant makes its implementation by Belarus legally binding. I condemn the sentence against Anastasiya, which violates human rights, and demand that Anastasiya Kukhta be released immediately and permanently! In addition, as an MP, I would also like to draw attention to the situation of other unjustly convicted political prisoners in Belarus.”