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Startseite Urgent Actions 2020 09 Release human rights defender Marfa Rabkova Marfa Rabkova charged with a false crime
FI 148/20-1
Abgeschlossen am 1. Dezember 2020
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10.11.2020: Update

Human rights defender Marfa Rabkova, who remains in detention in Belarus for her peaceful human rights work and faces criminal charges that carry a prison sentence of up to three years.

Marfa Rabkova’s case was recently raised by a number of UN Special Procedures in a statement published on 2 November condemning the targeting of women human rights defenders: see here

Mary Lawlor, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, noted in the statement that the «charge against Maria Rabkova is tantamount to the criminalisation of human rights work.»

As the Belarusian authorities are intensifying their crackdown on peaceful protestors, we need to let them know that the world is not going away and to keep up the pressure on the authorities as well as our solidarity with those detained.

Please continue to send appeals and messages of solidarity for Marfa Rabkova (see below).

Thank you very much for your continued support!

09.10.2020: Solidarity action to support prisoner of conscience Marfa Rabkova

You can send solidarity messages to:
Rabkova Maryia Aliaksandrauna
SIZO №1, vulica Valadarskaha 2,
Minsk, 220030
Republic of Belarus
Great if we can show Marfa she’s not alone.

Suggested messages include:

You are not alone! (Belarusian: Мы з вамi! Russian: Мы с вами!)

I support your freedom!
(Belarusian: Я далучаюся да патрабаванняў аб вашым неадкладным вызваленні! Russian: Я присоединяюсь к требованиям о вашем немедленном освобождении!)

Free all prisoners of conscience in Belarus!
(Belarusian: Я заклiкаю жа вызвалення ўсіх вязняў сумлення ў Беларусі! Russian: Я призиваю к освобождению всех узников совести в Беларуси!)

Thank you very much for your solidarity!

07.10.2020: Correction of the name of the General Prosecutor

Please note the name of the Prosecutor General is Andrei Shved.

Thank you.

Marfa Rabkova charged with a false crime

AI-Index: EUR 49/3178/2020

Following her detention on 17 September, woman human rights defender Marfa Rabkova was charged on 25 September under Article 293(3) of the Belarusian Criminal Code and faces imprisonment of up to three years if convicted. She is a prisoner of conscience, targeted solely for her peaceful human rights work and must be immediately and unconditionally released.


Marfa Rabkova is a member of the Human Rights Center «Viasna» where she coordinates the organization’s Volunteer Service. According to Viasna, throughout the presidential election campaign, during and after the 9 August election, members of Viasna faced harassment from the authorities, including administrative arrest, arbitrary detentions and attempted prosecution in connection with their human rights activities.

Marfa Rabkova and her husband, Vadzim Zharomski, were detained on the evening of 17 September by officers of the Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption (GUBAZIK). Their apartment was searched and money, personal belongings and IT equipment were seized. Vadzim Zharomski was later released but Marfa Rabkova was remanded for ten days as a suspect under Art. 293(3) of the Criminal Code.

The detention of human rights defender Marfa Rabkova comes in the context of a drastic deterioration in the human rights situation in Belarus. During the electoral campaign period and following the presidential election on 9 August, there have been mass peaceful protests against the widely disputed official results as well as against police violence and widespread human rights violations. Throughout, the authorities have engaged in an escalating campaign against the opposition and all dissenting voices. Thousands of people have been arbitrarily arrested by police, an overwhelming majority of them peaceful protesters or bystanders, and many apprehended in abduction-style arrest by masked plain-clothed men.

According to countless first-hand testimonies, widely available photographic and video material, and medical documents, many if not all of those detained have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. The detention centre on Akrestsina, in the capital Minsk, where Marfa Rabkova was initially held, has become synonymous with the practice of vicious beatings and sexual violence and other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Dozens of high-profile political and civil society activists and their associates have been arrested under trumped-up charges and subsequently remanded as criminal suspects – as is the case with Marfa Rabkova. They should all be immediately released, and all other human rights violations must stop immediately, including the dispersal of peaceful assemblies, mass arrests and the widespread ill-treatment and torture of detainees.

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