Following her commitment to raise awareness of the plight of the imprisoned Belarusian philosopher Uladzimir Matskevich, Luise Amtsberg, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (18 February):
I was deeply moved by the fate of the philosopher Uladzimir Matskevich, who has been imprisoned in Belarus for political reasons and who went on hunger strike from 4 to 16 February due to the circumstances of his imprisonment and the delay in his case coming to trial. I would therefore like to assure him of my support and undertake a commitment to raise awareness of his plight. This is also intended to send a message to all other political prisoners in Belarus: we are moved by their fate and will continue to work for their release.
Since the 1990s, Uladzimir Matskevich has been working in Belarus as a philosopher and civil society player to promote education and participation in the country’s social and political life. He was arrested on 4 August 2021 on political grounds. To this day he has not been formally charged and no trial date has been set. These circumstances drove him to go on hunger strike on 4 February, exactly half a year after his arrest. After being highly concerned for his health and his life, I am very relieved that he ended this hunger strike yesterday evening – after receiving medical treatment and the assurance that his trial will be continued.
There are now more than 1000 political and civil society activists in prison in Belarus as a result of their commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights, to promoting liberty and freedom of expression. This unfortunately shows all too clearly the level of ruthless repression that the Belarusian regime is inflicting on civil society. Peaceful engagement for political participation and fundamental democratic rights cannot be a crime. We therefore call for the release of Uladzimir Matskevich and all political prisoners and will continue our active support for civil society in Belarus in future.