Students For Liberty leader and civil rights activist, Piotr Markiulau, will spend 12 days in prison for supporting a family of political prisoners on hunger strike
On July 29, 2020 at 23:30 PM, civil rights activist and Students For Liberty’s Regional Coordinator for Eastern Europe, 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 him.
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 resembled a person of interest. Despite remaining peaceful throughout, officials 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 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. During his imprisonment, he suffered greatly while being abused by police officers, and subject to inhumane treatment.
In December 2019, Piotr was detained and charged with disobedience and hooliganism after documenting election fraud and corruption, where he called 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. Piotr has been continuously targeted by the Belarusian government for peaceful protests.
This time, Piotr has not organized any public protests, 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 to him behind 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.
Help us spread the word by demanding freedom and justice for Piotr. Please, share this message using the hashtag #FreePiotr with your family and friends in support of Piotr Markielau and other freedom fighters in Belarus.
Click below to listen to the statement from Students For Liberty’s CEO Dr. Wolf von Laer.