As part of Amnesty International's Write for Rights campaign to support and free political prisoner, Julie has sent this letter to imprisoned Ukrainian film-maker, Oleg Sentsov.
I am writing to you as a Member of the European Parliament, a member of the Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee, and as an artist and writer. I would like to let you know that you are not alone, and I send you my solidarity and support.
Working together with NGOs, activists and fellow parliamentarians, I will continue to use my platform to raise your case and challenge the criminal injustice you have suffered. We will continue to demand your release, and bring pressure to bear so that conditions for civil society and democracy are improved, and so that people who dare to challenge and voice dissent are not silenced. We will also fight to make sure that the inhumane conditions you have faced in prison are improved. We will continue to monitor your situation, and that of other Ukrainian prisoners illegally held in Russia, and mobilise the international community to end this travesty.
I was pleased to give my support to the Belarus Free Theatre's production of 'Burning Doors' at Contact Theatre in Manchester recently where we had an after-show discussion about the human rights abuses being carried out by Russia against Ukrainian citizens. The event was attended by Anglo-Ukrainian constituents and live-streamed by Ukrainian TV station Hromadske. I have subsequently received a letter from your cousin Natalia Kaplan and I will remain in contact with her and other concerned persons and organisations.
I am hoping to host an event at the European Parliament in 2017 where we will screen your work, raise awareness of illegally-held prisoners, and discuss your situation and that of your fellow prisoners, and the ongoing situation in Ukraine.
In the meantime, I send you season’s greetings,
Julie Ward MEP