Press release May 12, 2015
Belarus: Freedom House, ALDE Group Launch Solidarity Initiative for Political Prisoners
Freedom House, the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, and the European Endowment for Democracy have launched the MEP4Freedom initiative in Brussels, to support the six political prisoners still behind bars in Belarus.
“The European Parliament’s MEP4Freedom initiative is an important signal for EU policy towards Minsk,” said Vytis Jurkonis, project director for Freedom House’s office in Lithuania. “The lack of clarity about who should be considered political prisoners in Belarus has been detrimental for those unjustly imprisoned for political motivations. The MEPs stood up in solidarity with all six political prisoners recognized by human rights defenders. The MEPs will closely follow developments in prisoners’ cases, advocating on their behalf and demanding accountability from Belarusian president Aliaksandr Lukashenka.”
MEPs Ana Maria Gomes, Mark Demesmaeker, Jaromír Štětina, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Alexander Lambsdorff, and Petras Auštrevičius will serve as patrons of prisoners Mikalai Statkevich, Yauhen Vaskovich, Artsiom Prakapenka, Yauhen Rubtsou, Mikalai Dziadok, and Ihar Alinevich.
The MEP4Freedom initiative comes six months ahead of the next presidential election in Belarus. It builds on the success of the MP4Freedom solidarity project launched a year ago by Freedom House, Belarusian human rights defenders, and members of the Lithuanian Seimas, which was also spearheaded by Petras Auštrevičius.
Belarus is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2014, and receives a democracy score of 6.5 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2014.