The annual meeting of OSCE on Human Dimension was held in Warsaw, from September 26 through October 7. The speakers at the opening of the meeting included – Evaldas Ignatavicius, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, the country holding the chair of OSCE, and Maria Bernatovitch Grazhina, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, a representative of the country chairing the EU, as well as other high level officials from OSCE. Their presentations voiced harsh criticism of the situation surrounding human rights in Belarus, especially after the events of December 19, 2010.
The guest of honor of the session was the General Secretary of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Khadija Cherif – one of Tunisia’s most well known human rights defenders, who had suffered the repressions of the Ben Ali regime, and is the founder of the Tunisian Women-Democrats and a member of the Tunisian League of Human Rights. In her speech, she noted the role of civic society of all countries as the only guarantee of the preservation of stability. Ms. Cherif separately took time to discuss the situation of the Vice-President of the Federation, Ales Bialiatski, calling for his immediate release. At that point, several dozen human rights defenders from throughout the former Soviet Block stood up wearing T-shirts with the image of Ales Bialiatski. This silent show of solidarity with the Belarus human rights defender resonated at the opening session of the OSCE.