Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Joint Statement of 15 international MPs on the situation in Belarus

Polish MEP Marek Migalski, as a participant in Libereco-Partnership for Human Rights Prisoners Godparenthood Campaign, issued a statement on the situation in Belarus, which was supported by 14 other international members of parliament

Today, they expressed their support for the democratic aspirations of the people of Belarus and called upon Belarusian authorities to cease the persecution of dissidents, human rights defenders and journalists in Belarus and to release and exonerate all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally.

The groups statement is below:

"The situation in Belarus is deteriorating as Belarusian authorities continue to repress fundamental freedoms of its people. As reported by independent Belarusian media, the regime continues its crackdowns and incarceration of political and human rights activists, members of the opposition, and independent journalists.

As these reports have detailed, the situation of several political prisoners that are still being held in prisons and other places of detention is worsening. Prisoners are often tortured and face harsh conditions, which in many cases pose threats to life and health. The Belarusian authorities continue to accuse the prisoners of "maliciously disrupting the prison regime" in order to eliminate their ability to receive a pardon. Siarhei Kavalenka and former presidential candidate, Mikalai Statkevich have been forced to submit the appeal for pardon. They refused and as a result, they were placed in solitary confinement.

We were disturbed to learn that a new investigation has been launched against the jailed leader of the opposition Young Front organization, Dzmitry Dashkevich.

He is facing another year in prison for allegedly violating prison rules. Mikalai Autukhovich and Mikalai Statkevich were sentenced by the court to harsh conditions and transferred to a closed prison regime from a penal colony. Mikalai Dziadok has been moved to a punishment isolation cell for a sentence of 6 months. Reports indicate that human rights activist, Ales Bialiatski faces increasingly repressive prison conditions, including reduced food rations and limited visiting rights.

On June 22, Andrei Pochobut, a well-known journalist and activist of the independent Union of Poles, was arrested and accused of insulting President Aliaksandr Lukashenka. Although he was released on bail June 30, he still faces a prison sentence on charges of "libeling the President". This targeted attack is a threat to Belarusian journalists and demonstrates the authorities increasing crackdown on freedom of expression.

Additionally, we are concerned about the rising number of administrative arrests of youth activists. From July 2011 to May 2012, 16 members of the Young Front (Malady Front) were arrested. These politically motivated arrests based on false charges are blatant attempts to harass and intimidate the opposition. We condemn the Belarusian authorities persecution of its citizens and call for the immediate release and fully exoneration of all political prisoners".

Marieluise Beck, Member of the German Bundestag
Bijan Djir-Sarai, Member of the German Bundestag
Sari Essayah, Member of the European Parliament
Michael Gahler, Member of the European Parliament
Katrin Göring-Eckardt, Vice President of the German Bundestag
Angelika Graf, Member of the German Bundestag
Mark Kirk, U.S. Senator for Illinois
Bärbel Kofler, Member of the German Bundestag
Marek Migalski, Member of the European Parliament
Manuel Sarrazin, Member of the German Bundestag
Werner Schulz, Member of European Parliament
Marina Schuster, Member of the German Bundestag
Christoph Strässer, Member of the German Bundestag
Franz Thönnes, Member of the German Bundestag
Florian Toncar, Member of the German Bundestag

Libereco Partnership for Human Rights initiated the Prisoners Godparenthood Campaign for political prisoners in Belarus to support the prisoners and their families. Several Members of Parliament who signed this joint statement have taken over a godparenthood for a political prisoner in Belarus.