Help fund the campaign to #FreeAndreiandIrina

Often called the ‘last dictatorship’ in Europe, Belarus has been ruled by President Lukashenko since 1994, a rule characterised by corruption and oppression. After the latest fraudulent Presidential election in August 2020, thousands of ordinary Belarusians have taken to the streets to protest. These protests continue to be met with widespread violence and arrests by the Lukashenko regime. 

Andrei Aliaksandrau is an independent journalist and human rights defender from Belarus. Aliaksandrau has had a leading role in protecting and defending the right to freedom of expression in Belarus and other countries in the region. Previously, he has lived and worked in the UK. He is a lifelong fan of Liverpool Football Club and an even bigger fan of British pubs.

Since the 12th of January Andrei and his partner Irina have been detained on suspicion of offences related to the gross violation of public order under article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code. The charges relate to the financing of the protests in Minsk by paying fines and reimbursing those detained during the pro-democracy protests that have been ongoing since the rigged presidential election in August 2020. 

 6 months after the fraudulent presidential election in August 2020, the Belarusian authorities continue to detain human rights defenders and media workers. According to the Human Rights Centre “Viasna”, as of 22 January Andrei Aliaksandrau and Irina Zlobina are two of the 185 political prisoners currently being held in detention centres across Belarus. According to the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), as of 22 January Aliaksandrau is also one of ten journalists being detained.

The decision to detain Aliaksandrau and Zlobina represents a fresh effort to target anyone involved in supporting those who exercised their fundamental right to freedom of expression and assembly. On 18 January 2021, human rights defender Leanid Sudalenka was detained under the same article - article 342 of the Criminal Code - that is being used to hold Aliaksandrau and Zlobina. His colleague Maryia Tarasenka was also detained and held for three days before being released on 21 January 2021. As international media attention on the protests has dwindled, Lukashenko has seized the opportunity to crack down. We must now allow the brave protestors of Belarus to be forgotten and mistreated.

In order for Andrei and Irina to have any chance at being released, funds are urgently required to cover  the costs of running an international pressure campaign. Any funds raised will be held in trust by the Index on Censorship to cover expenses related to the campaign to free Andrei and other political prisoners, and to support the movement for a free and democratic Belarus. You can follow the progress of the campaign here
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Organizer and beneficiary

#freeandreiandirina campaign
Ruth Emblin-James

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