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Freedom for Belarusian Political Prisoners

Human Rights House Foundation calls on the Belarusian authorities to end all human rights violations and to release all political prisoners. We stand in solidarity with Belarusian civil society. [Updated 11 October 2022]

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Political prisoners in Belarus

In connection with the 9 August 2020 presidential election in Belarus, tens of thousands of people who have taken to the streets in peaceful protests have been met with mass repression by the Belarusian authorities.

Click here for full list of political prisoners in Belarus

Bloggers, businessmen, presidential campaign members and peaceful protesters are held in prisons only because they were not afraid to exercise their rights – the right to participate in peaceful assemblies, to express their opinion and to be involved in political activities.

Viasna – full list of political prisoners & more here.

Political prisoners: our position

Human Rights House Foundation considers a political prisoner to be any person deprived of liberty for political motives or in violation of their human rights, in particular the rights to freedoms of expression, assembly, association and the right to be a human rights defender. This definition is, in part, inspired by the criteria outlined by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

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Our friends behind bars

Human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, political opposition and more are among the hundreds of people behind bars in Belarus today. Read some of the stories below. For the full list of political prisoners, please click here.


Freedom for Andrei Aliaksandrau

Date of birth: 27 January 1978

Date of detention: 12 January 2021

Sentence: 14 years

Andrei Aliaksandrau is a journalist and media manager. He was detained by officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on January 12, 2021. Together with him, his partner Iryna Zlobina was arrested.

In general, there were many reasons to repeat the [Liverpool FC’s] anthem to myself – You’ll Never Walk Alone… Words of support from letters (sometimes – with the results of the matches) made me sing [and] play it in my head… One day it got to the point where I caught myself mumbling the club’s anthem in Belarusian.

Andrei Aliaksandrau writes to friend and colleague Andrei Bastunets describing why he translated Liverpool FC’s anthem into Belarusian. It should be noted that a tongue-in-cheek apology was offered by Aliaksandrau to Bastunets who is an Arsenal supporter.

On 6 October 2022, Aliaksandrau was sentenced to 14 years in a penal colony. He was sentenced alongside fellow defendants in the “BelaPAN” case, Iryna Zlobina, Dmitry Navazhilov, and Iryna Levshina who received 9, 6, and 4 years respectively. 

Read Andrei’s story.

Send Andrei a postcard via volunteer initiative Solidarity Postcards Atelier, organised by activists of the Belarusian Human Rights School and the Belarusian Students’s Association.


Freedom for Ales Bialiatski

Date of birth: 25 September 1962

Date of detention: 14 July 2021

Ales Bialiatski is the chairman of Viasna. On 7 October 2022, Ales Bialiatski was awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine), and Memorial (Russia).

What matters is that we shouldn’t get depressed and be down. I believe that soon everything will be fine. And what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Ales has been a political prisoner before. On 4 August 2011, he was arrested after Lithuania and Poland had passed data on bank accounts on their territory to the Belarusian authorities. Bialiatski was accused of serious concealment of proceeds. On 24 November 2011, he was convicted by the Pieršamajski District Court of Minsk to 4.5 years of imprisonment with confiscation of property. He pleaded not guilty, stating that all the money from the accounts was used for human rights activities. Countries of the European Union, the U.S. and international human rights organizations recognized him as a political prisoner and his sentence as politically motivated. He was released on a general pardon on 21 June 2014.

Ales Bialiatski was detained on 14 July 2021 as a part of a massive coordinated raid on civil society conducted by the Belarusian authorities.

Read Ales’ story.

Send Ales a postcard via volunteer initiative Solidarity Postcards Atelier, organised by activists of the Belarusian Human Rights School and the Belarusian Students’s Association.


Freedom for Andrei Chapiuk

Date of birth: 17 May 1996

Date of detention: 2 October 2020

Sentence: six years

Andrei Chapiuk is a volunteer at Viasna.

In his letters [Andrei] says that he tries to enjoy the little things: he writes about his outdoors time and how happy he was to hear the birds singing

Chapiuk’s partner Alena

On October 2, Andrei Chapiuk, a volunteer working with Viasna was detained in Minsk and his apartment was searched by law enforcement. On October 9, Andrei was charged with participation in riots and taken to a pre-trial detention centre in Minsk.  

On September 6, 2022, Chapiuk was sentenced—he received six years in a medium-security penal colony and a fine of 18,000 Belarusian rubles (more than $6,300).

Read Andrei’s story.

Send Andrei a postcard via volunteer initiative Solidarity Postcards Atelier, organised by activists of the Belarusian Human Rights School and the Belarusian Students’s Association. 


Freedom for Uladzimir Labkovich

Date of birth: 22 October 1978

Date of detention: 14 July 2021

Uladzimir Labkovich is a lawyer at Viasna.

You cannot imagine how powerful this support is – to receive letters being here. <…> I urge you to write letters to all prisoners. Here time just freezes. Life is on pause. Separation from the family is what hurts you most. That’s why letters from everyone with words of support are very important.

Uladzimir Labkovich

Uladzimir Labkovich was detained on 14 July 2021 as a part of a massive coordinated raid on civil society conducted by the Belarusian authorities.

Read Uladzimr’s story.

Send Uladzimir a postcard via volunteer initiative Solidarity Postcards Atelier, organised by activists of the Belarusian Human Rights School and the Belarusian Students’s Association. 


Freedom for Valiantsin Stefanovich

Date of birth: 14 October 1972

Date of detention: 14 July 2021

Valiantsin Stefanovich is a member of the board at Viasna, vice-president of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

Everything is more or less fine for me here. I sail in my submarine and occasionally float to the surface (for an hour and a half) to take a breath and look at the sky.

Valiantsin Stefanovich

Valiantsin Stefanovich was detained on 14 July 2021 as a part of a massive coordinated raid on civil society conducted by the Belarusian authorities.

In September 2022, Viasna received the Albie Awards 2022, established by the Clooney Foundation, in the “Justice for Democracy Advocates” category. Valiantsin’s wife Alina received the prize at the award ceremony. Read her speech, as well as a letter from Valiantsin written for the ceremony from behind bars here.

Read Valiantsin’s story.

Send Valiantsin a postcard via volunteer initiative Solidarity Postcards Atelier, organised by activists of the Belarusian Human Rights School and the Belarusian Students’s Association. 


Freedom for Marfa Rabkova

Date of birth: 6 January 1995

Date of detention: 17 September 2020

Sentence: 15 years

Marfa Rabkova is a volunteer at Viasna.

The letters I get from Belarusians are fantastic. So touching and making me cry. But these are good tears of gratitude and mutual warmth. Thank you for remembering us, worrying for us and supporting us!

Marfa Rabkova

On 17 September 2020, Rabkova was detained in Minsk and charged with “criminal pursuit”. 

On September 6, 2022, Rabkova was sentenced to 15 years in a general-security penal colony and a fine of 22,400 Belarusian rubles (more than $8,800).

Read Marfa’s story.

Read a letter written by Marfa from behind bars, featured in the “Letters from Lukashenka’s prisoners” campaign.

Send Marfa a postcard via volunteer initiative Solidarity Postcards Atelier, organised by activists of the Belarusian Human Rights School and the Belarusian Students’s Association. 


Freedom for Leanid Sudalenka

Date of birth: 23 September 1966

Date of detention: 18 January 2021

Sentence: 3 years

Leanid Sudalenka the head of Viasna’s office in Homieĺ.

He knew that he would be arrested, but Leanid decided to stay and to work with the victims of repressions until the last day.

Andrej Stryzhak, human rights defender, co-founder of By_Help and BYSOL solidarity funds

On January 5 2021, the civil and political community centre where Viasna’s office is located was raided by the police. On January 18, police detained Leanid Sudalenka. On the same evening, Sudalenka’s assistant and Viasna’s volunteer Maryia Tarasenka was detained and her house was also searched. Tarasenka was later released on 21 January 2021.

On November 3 2021, Sudalenka was sentenced to three years of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony. On January 14, 2022, judge Mikalai Maratayeu of the Homieĺ Regional Court turned down Sudalenka’s appeal, confirming the prison term. On January 26, 2022, Leanid Sudalenka was transferred to penal colony No. 3 near Viciebsk.

Read Leanid’s story.

Send Leanid a postcard via volunteer initiative Solidarity Postcards Atelier, organised by activists of the Belarusian Human Rights School and the Belarusian Students’s Association.


Freedom for Tatsiana Lasitsa – released 24 September 2022

Date of birth: 24 November 1978

Date of detention: 21 January 2021

Released: 24 September 2022 (served 20 months of 2.5 year sentence)

Tatsiana Lasitsa is a volunteer of Viasna’s office in Homieĺ.

“Tatsiana is a very cheerful person who seeks to help everyone; she will not raise her voice, she will not sit in public transport while an elderly person is standing.” – a friend of Tatsiana Lasitsa

Tatsiana Lasitsa was detained on January 21 at the Minsk airport by officers of the Interior Ministry. On November 3 2021, Lasitsa was sentenced to two and a half years of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony.

On September 24, 2022, Lasitsa was released from the penal colony. She spent 20 months in custody.

Read Tatsiana’s story.

Read HRHF’s statement on her release.

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Take action

Postcards for political prisoners

Viasna is keeping a comprehensive and regularly updated list of political prisoners as well as their mailing addresses. Show your support by sending letters of solidarity!

Send a postcard digitally via volunteer initiative Solidarity Postcards Atelier, organised by activists of the Belarusian Human Rights School and the Belarusian Students’s Association.

Show your support online and offline

Show your support by sharing these graphics or print them, take a selfie with them, and post them online #FreeBelarus.

 

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