PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE
Every year, hundreds of people around the world are arbitrarily and wrongfully imprisoned for no other reason than being critical of those in power and exposing government wrongdoing. They become political prisoners and prisoners of conscience for the sole reason of peaceful expression of their political, religious, or other conscientiously held beliefs, or for their identity. The problem of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience is particularly pertinent in many parts of Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Since the fraudulent elections in Belarus in August 2020 and the ensuing protests and violent crackdown, thousands of people have been wrongfully detained. In July 2021, almost 600 people are currently considered political prisoners and these sad numbers are rising every single day. But also in Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan human rights advocates, opposition leaders, journalists, activists and others have been targets of persecution and arbitrary arrests. They have become prisoners of conscience. The publication “Prisoners of Conscience” by the Regional Office for East and Southeast Europe of the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation for Freedom raises awareness for the plight of some of these brave individuals, who are wrongfully imprisoned. Keeping their stories in the public eye is crucial, as one political prisoner is one too many.