On June 5, 2012 the member of the board of the civil association “Mahiliou Human Rights Center” Viktar Sidarenka paid a visit to Babruisk penal colony n°2 to meet with the convicted human rights defender Ales Bialiatski.Mr. Sidarenka got this opportunity because he is the head of the public commission for supervision over penitentiary institution at the Main Bureau of the Mahiliou City Executive Committee. The reason for the meeting was the appeal of human rights defender Nasta Loika in connection with the fact that Ales Bialiatski didn’t receive some mail correspondence. The justice department allowed the commission to check this information. Viktar Sidarenka says that the meeting lasted for about 30 minutes in presence of representatives of the colony’s administration. “Ales Bialiatski stated that everything was relatively well, the nutrition in the colony was not bad. He still works as a wrapper at sewing industry. We weren’t allowed to talk eye to eye, though they were to have done it according to the law. Moreover, Ales wasn’t allowed to fill our questionnaire. Ales would have probably told something interesting if we were left tête-à-tête,” says Viktar Sidarenka. According to him, the colony administration created a special register for Ales’s incoming and outgoing mail correspondence. Ales Bialiatski usually receives 4-5 letters a week, sometimes this number reaches 10. The report of the public commission concerning results of the visit to the colony will be submitted to the penal department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and human rights defender Nasta Loika. Bear in mind that the well-known Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski was sentenced to 4.5 years of imprisonment by the Pershamaiski District Court of Minsk. Judge Siarhei Bandarenka found him guilty of evasion from taxes on an especially high scale and sentenced him to imprisonment with confiscation of assents.
This website was created after the arrest of Ales Bialitaski, as an information portal about the struggle of Belarusian civil society, what has been done at the international level to end its harassment and what more can be done.
Human rights defenders and civil society in Belarus are subjected to harsh conditions. As a result, their plight has often been in the international spotlight, particularly in December 2010, when popular protest overs the 2010 Presidential elections was crushed by the State. Many people were arrested, harassed and beaten.
Arrested by the Belarusian authorities on grounds of “serious tax evasion” on August 4, 2011, Ales Bialiatski was subsequently condemned for his human rights activities. Ales Bialiatski is Vice-President of FIDH and President of the Belarus-based Human Rights Centre “Viasna”. Bialiatski’s case has become symbolic of the constant persecution that human rights defenders and representatives of civil society in Belarus as a whole are subjected to by the government.