Marfa Rabkova is a Belarusian human rights defender and the coordinator of the volunteer network of Viasna, a leading human rights group in Belarus actively monitoring and documenting human rights violations.
Marfa was arbitrarily detained on 17 Sep 2020, and has been in pre-trial detention ever since, charged with fabricated criminal offences. She could face up to 12 years in prison if convicted. Marfa must be freed immediately and unconditionally.
Viasna has faced harassment and interference from the Belarusian authorities throughout its existence, but the pressure has increased since the disputed presidential elections in August 2020. Members of Viasna have been subjected to administrative arrest, arbitrary detentions, and criminal prosecution for carrying out their human rights activities.
Marfa was the first member of Viasna to be detained. Marfa’s apartment was searched and money, personal belongings and IT equipment were seized.
Marfa has been charged with inciting hatred towards law enforcement officers because she helped expose arbitrary detentions, torture and other ill-treatment of peaceful protestors by the authorities. Documenting human rights violations is not a crime.
The reprisals against Marfa and Viasna are just a part of the broader crackdown on civil society in Belarus. On 22 July 2021, the Ministry of Justice ordered the closure of 53 organizations. At present, more than 200 civil society organizations have been shut down or are in the process of being closed down.