Human rights defenders across the country are going to stage pickets on 4 August to mark two years since the arrest of Viasna leader Ales Bialiatski. In particular, applications were submitted to local executive authorities in Mahiliou, Hrodna, Baranavichy, Biaroza and Brest.
“We want to draw attention of Mahiliou residents to the problem of existence of political prisoners in our country, so that people could learn that political opponents of the regime are persecuted the authorities. We also demand that human rights defender Ales Bialiatski was released and rehabilitated in his rights,” says human rights activist Aliaksei Kolchyn.
“With our picket, we want to emphasize that people are punished for their political views in Belarus. And we want to give moral support not only of Ales Bialiatski, but also to all political prisoners, who, we believe, were illegally convicted,” says human rights defender of Baranavichy Siarhei Housha.
However, there is little hope that the pickets will be allowed. In particular, Hrodna authorities have not approved a single picket in the past decade. Last year, local human rights defenders were planning to stage a similar picket, but the city executive committee banned the information event.
Ales Bialiatski was arrested on August 4, 2011 on charges of tax evasion (concealment of income on a large scale, Article 243, par. 2 of the Criminal Code). On October 24 of the same year, he was sentenced to 4.5 years of imprisonment.