Ales Bialiatski, the President of Human Rights Centre “Viasna” and FIDH Vice-President, was arrested in Minsk on 4 August 2011, and sentenced to four and a half years of imprisonment for alleged tax evasion. As of today, he still is behind bars, along with 12 other political prisoners.
Since his election as Belarus’ first president in 1994, Alexander Lukashenko has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means, restricting the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association. The human rights situation in Belarus took a harsh turn for the worse on 19 December 2010 when riot police brutally dispersed a demonstration protesting against the unfair handling of the presidential election, and beat and detained hundreds of persons, including seven presidential candidates. It was the beginning of an unprecedented wave of repressions which continues to this day. In the FIDH seven minute film Bitter Winter in Belarus, Ales denounced the repression exercised against Belarusian dissent voices. His arrest came only a few months later.
On the occasion of the sad anniversary of Ales’ arrest on August 4, an International Day of solidarity with civil society and human rights movement in Belarus has been launched by activists from different countries.
The entire Belarusian civil society has been targeted since the 19 December 2010 violent crackdown. President Lukashenko’s regime ramped-up repression against political activists, journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders, trade-unionists and activists of all boards who continue to fight for dignity and human rights.
One year ago, Ales was arrested and charged with “concealment of profits on an especially large-scale”, after Poland and Lithuania provided Belarusian authorities his banking information.
His trial was held in November 2011 before Minsk City Court.
Ales’ arrest, trial and detention were unanimously denounced by the international community.
PACE declaration in support with Bialiatski and his nomination as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Price
Human rights defenders and citizens in Poland, France, Russia, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan, Senegal, Georgia, amongst other countries, have not ceased to call for Ales’ immediate release.
However, one year after his arrest, Ales is still being detained under harsh conditions, and his health condition has significantly deteriorated. He also have very limited contact with his family and the outside world.
In recent weeks, the penitential administration has drastically reduced his food parcels and his already scarce visiting rights, has punished fellow prisoners for talking to him, and has piled on disciplinary sanctions and extra duties, which prevents him from being amnestied or released.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights defenders remains extremely concerned about his ongoing arbitrary detention.
BELARUS: First year of imprisonment for Ales Bialiatski, a sad illustration of the ongoing repression of the Belarusian civil society