Marfa Rabkova, a human rights activist and coordinator of Viasna’s Volunteer Service, is facing new charges linked to “endangering national security” that could lead to up to 20 years in prison, the Viasna Human Rights Center reports on its website. The 26-year-old activist rejects all the accusations against her as politically motivated.
According to the letter Rabkova sent to her family from jail, the Belarusian authorities have charged her with managing a criminal organization, inciting social hostility, and calling for actions that aim to harm national security. The 26-year-old activist and her husband Vadzim Zharomski were detained in September 2020. She has been held in a pre-trial detention center since her arrest. Seven other staff members from Viasna’s Volunteer Service have also been arrested under spurious charges, with two of them sentenced to prison terms in closed-door trials.
Amnesty International has reiterated its call on Belarusian authorities to release Rabkova and other arbitrarily detained human rights activists. Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said: “Marfa Rabkova’s case epitomizes the horrors currently faced by human rights defenders and the wider civil society in Belarus.” Over the last 18 months, Lukashenko’s government has effectively outlawed the country’s entire human rights community by closing vast numbers of NGOs.