298 people are currently in political detention in Belarus. The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) would like to draw attention to these individuals and their fates, and appeals for volunteers to write letters to the political prisoners in Belarus. “Please send letters as a sign of solidarity and against forgetting. Nothing is worse for innocent detainees than to be forgotten in prison,” says Petra Bosse-Huber, vice-president of the Church Office and EKD bishop for ecumenical relations.
In the last few weeks, dozens of people have been sentenced to long years of detention in politically motivated trials. A similar fate awaits many more who are in pre-trial detention. The website www.100xSolidarität.de contains reports (in German) on the fates of those concerned and tips for drafting and sending a letter.”
While the situation in Belarus is receiving hardly any international attention now, life there is becoming more and more depressing, says Bosse-Huber. “The regime has intimidated the freedom movement with incredible ruthlessness. And the prisoners are despairing more and more from day to day.” Furthermore, several detainees are on hunger strike and there have been suicide attempts. From such a distance we can do little to assist directly. Yet we can send letters. In the solitude of detention, every letter inspires hope – and reminds the prisoners that we are thinking of them, praying for them and hoping for their release,” says the bishop for ecumenical relations.
Background on Belarus
On 9 August 2020 presidential elections took place in Belarus. Before that, Alexander Lukashenko, the authoritarian president who had ruled for 26 years, refused to allow opposing candidates to run and either had them imprisoned or forced them to go into exile. International election observers were not admitted. The official electoral results were patently false.
This electoral fraud led to protests all over the country. The biggest freedom movement in Europe for decades sprang up. The regime‘s armed forces cracked down with brute force. Around 30,000 people were temporarily detained and thousands severely mishandled or otherwise inhumanly and unlawfully treated. According to the Belarusian human rights organisation Vjasna, 298 are currently detained as political prisoners. Many have already received long prison sentences and others are threatened with the same fate.
Background on the action “100xSolidarität“
Together with the German Association for East European Studies and the Belarusian human rights organization Viasna, the EKD calls for solidarity with all detainees and advocates for their release.
The names and fates of all political prisoners are posted on the action website www.100xSolidarität.de – along with statements by many public figures in Germany, including philosopher Jürgen Habermas, Nobel laureate for literature Herta Müller, state premier Bodo Ramelow, journalist Carolin Emcke, musician Anne-Sophie Mutter, director Milo Rau, writer Sibylle Berg and many others.
Hanover, 24 March 2021
EKD Press Office