December 2, 2011 – Statement by the Working Group for Belarus at Zagranica Group after the sentence of Ales Bialiatski – Human Rights Centre “Viasna” activist
Polish civil society organizations express a strong protest against the judgment that court in Minsk issued on the 24th of November 2011 on Ales Bialiatski, a distinguished human rights activist, head of Human Rights Center “Viasna” that was banned by Lukashenko’s regime. In our opinion, the trial of Bialiatski who was accused of alleged tax evasion, was purely political and was conducted in violation of basic standards of law, including the right to defend and carry out the proof of guilt. The verdict - 4.5-year prison sentence in a maximum security prison, confiscation of property and a fine of 721 million of Belarusian rubles - is meant to intimidate the Belarusian people and to discredit and destroy all independent non-governmental organizations and opposition groups in this country. This sentence also means that the regime totally disregards international obligations in regards to human rights and civil liberties.
We regret the fact that Ales Bialiatski was arrested and accused due to recklessness of the officials of the Polish Public Prosecutor General. Details of the bank accounts with the funds for supporting those persecuted, were transmitted to Minsk. It was a cardinal mistake that should not take place in a democratic country. We expect that the authorities in Poland will give the affected activists any assistance they need.
We demand that Ales Bialiatski and all other political prisoners will be immediately and unconditionally released from prison and that charges against them will be dropped.
We urge the Polish authorities and the European Union to take decisive actions towards Minsk, which will lead to the release of prisoners and will allow the citizens of Belarus to exercise their rights. These activities must be severe for the regime, but they should not strike the ordinary citizens.
We declare our solidarity with all the detainees and their families. We will continue to help our Belarusian friends and support their efforts to introduce democracy in their country.
Working Group for Belarus at Zagranica Group:
Białoruskie Towarzystwo Historyczne (Belarusian Historical Society)
Centrum Stosunków Międzynarodowych (Center for International Relations_
Dom Spotkań im. Angelusa Silesiusa (Angelus Silesius Meeting House)
Europejska Akademia Dyplomacji (European Academy of Diplomacy)
Europejski Instytut na rzecz Demokracji (European Institute for Democracy)
Fundacja Edukacja dla Demokracji (Education for Democracy Foundation)
Fundacja im. Kazimierza Pułaskiego (Kazimierz Pulaski Foundation)
Fundacja im. Stefana Batorego (Stefan Batory Foundation)
Fundacja “Krzyżowa” dla Porozumienia Europejskiego („Krzyzowa” Foundation for European Understanding)
Fundacja Wolność i Demokracja (Freedom and Democracy Foundation)
Fundacja Wspólna Europa (Common Europe Foundation)
Helsińska Fundacja Praw Człowieka (Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights)
Inicjatywa Wolna Białoruś (Free Belarus Initiative)
Instytut Spraw Publicznych (Institute of Public Affairs)
Klub Inteligencji Katolickiej (Club of Catholic Intelligentsia)
Res Publica Nowa
Stowarzyszenie Młodych Twórców “Ku Teatrowi” (Association of Young Creators “Towards Theatre”)
Towarzystwo Białoruskie w Krakowie (Belarusian Association in Krakow)
Wschodnioeuropejskie Centrum Demokratyczne (East European Democratic Centre)