Anderlecht unfurls banner in support of Olivier Vandecasteele

Anderlecht unfurls banner in support of Olivier Vandecasteele
Illustration picture shows an action in support of Olivier Vandecasteele, organised by the Olivier Vandecasteele Support Committee and Amnesty International, Sunday 22 January 2023. Olivier Vandecasteele is a Belgian humanitarian worker who has worked for more than six years in Iran for international NGOs. On 24 February, he was arrested by the Iranian authorities. BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

Anderlecht municipality has unfurled a banner with the portrait of Olivier Vandecasteele on the facade of City Hall to show its support for the Belgian humanitarian worker imprisoned in Iran and demand his immediate release.

The black banner, donated by Amnesty International, shows a photo of the 40-year-old accompanied by #freeoliviervandecasteele and a QR-code linking to the online petition launched to obtain his release. The petition has already collected more than 57,000 signatures.

The municipality of Anderlecht will also send a letter to the Iranian embassy in Belgium as part of the campaign led by Amnesty.

“This action is taking place in many municipalities but it is mainly to say that he is not alone and that we are at his side. We also want to let his family know that they are not alone in their struggle,” said Anderlecht Mayor Fabrice Cumps.

The Belgian aid worker was arrested on 24 February 2022 and has been held in an Iranian jail since then. According to Iranian media reports, he was found guilty of espionage and sentenced after a sham trial to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes. His conditions of detention are inhumane, according to his brother-in-law, Joris Brabant.

“It’s very bad for Olivier. He lives in a cellar without seeing daylight and it is terribly cold. He is undernourished and now weighs less than 50 kilos. Sometimes he has a mattress and sometimes he doesn’t,” his brother-in-law said.

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