Civil Rights Activist Arrested for Supporting Family of Political Prisoner in Belarus
Students For Liberty leader and civil rights activist, Piotr Markielau, will spend 12 days in prison for supporting a family of political prisoners on hunger strike
[Minsk, Belarus] On July 29, 2020 at 23:30 PM civil rights activist Piotr Markielau was detained in front of Detention Center #1 in Minsk, Belarus, where he arrived to support a group of women on a hunger strike.
The mother and the bride of a political prisoner, Dmitriy Furmanov, announced the hunger strike in front of the Detention Center, demanding the release of Dmitry Furmanov three days prior.
Minutes after Piotr arrived at the venue, OMON (Special Purpose Mobile Unit in Belarus) started to check-up on the present activists. Officials checked accreditation of the journalists covering the events, and immediately approached Piotr. Having checked his ID, officials requested that he follow them to their car to have a conversation, and when activists pointed out that this request went against administrative procedure, officials claimed that Piotr resembles a person of interest, and forcefully put him in their car, and disappeared.
Late on July 30th, The Court Of The Moskovsky District in Minsk sentenced Piotr to 12 days of administrative arrest under article 23.34 p. 3 of the Administrative Code of Belarus, for violating the rules of conduct of public gatherings.
Piotr Markielau is the Regional Coordinator for Eastern Europe at Students For Liberty, a non-profit organization, and civil rights activist who has been continuously persecuted by law enforcement officials. This May, Piotr spent 10 days in prison after being arrested at the courthouse in Minsk, where he was awaiting a trial for his friends who organized a coffin performance.
In December 2019, Piotr was detained and charged with disobedience and hooliganism after calling attention to a dishonest counting of votes during the parliamentary elections in Belarus. That same month, he was also charged with a $400 fine for taking pictures of the peaceful anti-Russian-integration rally.
This time, Piotr has not organized any public protests, nor taken pictures, nor made public statements on his social media accounts. He was arrested the moment he was spotted at the gathering, and his whereabouts were kept unknown to his family for nearly 24 hours since his arrest. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Piotr will not be able to meet his lawyer, and the public will not know what is happening behind the prison walls.
The Students For Liberty community is deeply concerned about the ongoing events in Belarus. Our community stands in support of everyone who wishes to exercise their right to express themselves as a means to protect their life and dignity. We are calling for an end to the unlawful use of force, violent misconduct, and harassment of peaceful protesters and civil rights activists.
In the light of the upcoming Presidential elections in Belarus which are scheduled for August 9, 2020, we call for the Belarusian government to free Piotr and all civil rights activists that have been wrongfully imprisoned and denied a free and just trial.
About Students For Liberty:
Students For Liberty is a 501(c)(3) U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to developing the next generation of leaders. SFL empowers students from all over the world to become agents of change and promote a freer future.
Public Relations Manager
Students For Liberty