VIASNA ACTIVISTS EXPRESS SOLIDARITY WITH HRODNA COLLEAGUES

Representatives of the central office of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” have held an action of solidarity with Hrodna human rights defenders – Viasna members Viktar Sazonau, Uladzimir Khilmanovich and Belarusian Helsinki Committee activist, Raman Yurhel. The have done so to express their support ahead of today’s consideration of an appeal against an absurd ruling against them by Hrodna Leninski District Court.

Hrodna human rights defenders are contesting fines of 1.5 mln rubles each for alleged illegal picketing on 10 December 2012. They were later charged under administrative procedures for posting a series of photos featuring their action of solidarity with imprisoned Viasna leader Ales Bialiatski online.

The legal absurdity of the unprecedented charges drew much public attention. To show their support for the Hrodna activists, human rights defenders from other Belarusian cities posted similar photos online, including the activists of Homel, Navapolatsk  and Salihorsk, as well asUkrainian human rights defenders.

The action by activists of Viasna’s Minsk office Valiantsin Stefanovich, Uladzimir Labkovich and Nasta Loika is also aimed at reminding the authorities about their failure to show respect for the Constitution and the international standards in the field of human rights, which guarantee Belarusian citizens the right to freedom of expression, including through publishing photographs on the Internet.

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“By doing this, the Belarusian authorities once again show the actual situation with human rights in the country, unlike what was said by the President of the Constitutional Court Piotr Milashevich at a press-conference on 23 January,” says deputy chair of “Viasna” Valiantsin Stefanovich.

Piotr Miklashevich told journalists on 23 January that promoting Constitutional values, including individuals’ rights and freedoms, is the duty of both the State and the civil society. Meanwhile, one should admit that in reality the Constitutional Court has repeatedly failed to consider appeals by human rights organizations, while human rights defenders keep being harassed by the State for their activities for protecting the rights and freedoms of citizens.

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