Petition to free Ales Bialiatski, Civicus World Assembly for Citizen Participation

To the people of Belarus,

As participants of the 2011 World Assembly of civil society from around the world, we stand in solidarity with our colleagues who have lately organized pickets in Yerevan, Stockholm, Vilnius, Kyiv and Moscow in protest of the recent arrest of Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski, leader of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” and vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

We are aware internationally of Ales Bialiatski as one of the foremost voices of civil society in Belarus and a man of thorough integrity devoted to upholding basic human rights and freedoms enshrined in the International Bill of Rights. We find the charges brought against him of tax evasion to be political in nature and, in unison with other international voices such as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, CIVICUS Secretary General Ingrid Srinath and democratic governments around the world, we ask for his immediate release.

In addition, we ask that that the Belarusian people take every precaution to allow civil society voices such as that of Ales Bialiatski and NGOs such as Human Rights Center Viasna to flourish rather than to struggle against regulations and practices, de jure and de facto, and other forms of obsolete control which prohibit the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association, and the exercise of all other values which democratic societies hold to be sacred.

We representatives of civil society from around the globe find these rights integral to prosperity and stability and as such we express solidarity with the people of Belarus in raising their voice in support of fundamental freedoms that the Belarusian government must uphold as a member of the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). We urge the Government of Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release Ales Bialiatski and ensure that he and the other human rights defenders in the country are able to carry on their peaceful and legitimate activities without fear of harassment and persecution, as provided for by the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Sincerely,

To sign the petition and for more information, see  www.civicus.org

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