ADF Requests Immediate Release of Imprisoned Belarus Christian Leaders

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The Alliance Defense Fund is asking for
the immediate release of the co-chairs of the Belarusian Christian
Democracy Party who were arrested and imprisoned after expressing
their views in a December 2010 Belarus national election.

The ADF sent letters on Monday to
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and European Parliament
President Jerzy Buzek asking for their support in the release of
Pavel Sieviarynets and Vital Rymasheuski.

Rymasheuski, who ran for president, is one of the founders of the
Belarusian Christian Democracy Party. He has
received a suspended sentence of two years in prison, while
Sieviarynets was sentenced in December to three years at a hard labor

AFP reports that the prisoners were
found guilty of “actions disrupting social order,” Judge Zhanna
Lukovskaya said from the courtroom. However, the ADF says they were
only arrested for expressing their Christian views.

“Christians shouldn’t be punished
simply for expressing their views. The free expression of ideas is a
basic human right that is protected by both Belarusian and European
law,” Roger Kiska, ADF legal counsel, says. “These two men were
groundlessly arrested, denied their rights and sentenced to prison
because of their views. They broke no laws and have only peacefully
expressed themselves.”

According to the ADF letters,
Sieviarynets was kept in the KGB prison in Minsk following his
arrest. He asked to meet with an Orthodox priest 10 times while
imprisoned and was denied each request.

“These two men have actively devoted
their political careers for the pursuit of religious freedom in
Belarus and have been champions of democracy,” the letters argue.
“Both men are friends and allies in religious liberty with the
Alliance Defense Fund, and we are shocked and disturbed at the
harshness of the sentences and the lack of rule of law or

Rymashevsky told AFP he plans to appeal
and intends on taking part in other political campaigns and becoming
president. “I came out of this stronger and more experienced,” he

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