As part of Libereco’s solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Ivan Štefanec (European Parliament, Christian Democratic Movement), Kaweh Mansoori (German Bundestag, Social Democratic Party) and Ye-One Rhie (German Bundestag, Social Democratic Party) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Siarhei Sakavets was detained on 1 October 2021, and sentenced to four years of imprisonment on 24 May 2022, for “organizing or actively participating in actions grossly violating public order” (Criminal Code Art. 342), “insulting the President of the Republic of Belarus” (Art. 368) and “slander of the President of the Republic of Belarus” (Art. 367).
Following the release of political prisoner Hleb Fitsner, MEP Ivan Štefanec is now taking on the godparenthood for Siarhei Sakavets. He says: “After the release of Mr. Hleb Fitsner, who has served his sentence, I have decided to adopt another political prisoner, Mr. Siarhei Sakavets, who is a power engineer, who has been sentenced to four years in jail for an alleged insult of the president of Belarus. He testified that he had been beaten during his detention time, which is incredibly inhumane. People like Siarhei are standing up for a better future for their country and have my full support so that their bravery and sacrifice is not in vain. His courage to resist the authoritarian regime and fight for freedom and democracy has earned my solidarity and deepest respect.”
Yury Bialko, a military engineer, was detained on 29 September 2020, and sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment on 19 July 2021, for “participation in riots” (Article 293), “intentional destruction or serious damage to property” (Article 218), and “illegal use of flammable materials” (Article 295-3), according to the Belarusian Criminal Code.
Kaweh Mansoori, Member of the Bundestag for the SPD, who has taken on the godparenthood for Yury Bialko, declares: “As a sign of solidarity with the courageous opposition members in Belarus, I have taken on the godparenthood for Yury Bialko, who is being unjustly held as a political prisoner in Belarus. In the shadow of Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine, Lukashenko continues to expand his state of injustice in Belarus. Belarusian civil society has faced increasing repression since the August 2020 elections. Mr. Bialko and the numerous political prisoners in Belarus must be released! We see you, we hear you and we will not forget about you.”
Yuliya Labunova was detained on 20 September 2021 and sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment on 20 May 2022 under the Belarusian Criminal Code for “hooliganism” (Art. 339). Her “hooliganism” consisted of staging a performance with two other people, who are now also being held as political prisoners.
Ye-One Rhie is a member of the German Bundestag. She comments on her godparenthood for Yuliya Labunova as follows: “The right to freedom of expression, artistic freedom and protest is an important democratic good and a fundamental right. Yuliya Labunova has not committed any crime with her creative protest action. On the contrary, she has shown her courage and made use of the right to freedom of expression and offered resistance to Lukashenko. The arrest of Yuliya Labunova proves once again that Lukashenko tramples democratic and freedom values and uses any kind of repression to silence his civil society. I demand the release of Yuliya Labunova and all other political prisoners!”