On December 10, Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë presented this symbolic award to Adam Bialiatski, the son of the political prisoner. The ceremony took place during a luncheon in honor of FIDH at City Hall in Paris.
Ales Bialiatski was granted the title of Honorary Citizen of Paris in October 2012 at the suggestion of the mayor and under the initiative of the City Council for the 11th arrondissment of the capital city of France.
It had always been Bertrand Delanoë’s hope to award the honorary citizenship to Ales Bialiatski in person, but the mayor’s term is ending and he understood that this would not be possible. So he decided to present this honor to the son of this prisoner of conscious on December 10, International Human Rights Day.
Witnessing the ceremony were several hundred guests, including journalists, people of the arts, and representatives of the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights.
Bertrand Delanoë knows Ales Bialiatski personally and has been following his fate with great attention. Delanoë expressed his solidarity with Ales as soon as he found out that Ales had been arrested, and he immediately called for his unconditional release. He has also made a number of symbolic gestures of support. For example, in 2012 Bialiatski’s portrait was installed in front of City Hall in Paris’s 11th arrondissment. Later the mayor signed a document nominating Bialiatski for the Nobel Peace Prize, and in September 2013, he sent Ales a letter reaffirming his support and deep admiration.
The letter states: “The title of Honorary Citizen of Paris, which our city council members awarded you at my request in 2012, symbolizes the solidarity of Paris and all Parisians with you. Another manifestation of this solidarity is your portrait, which hangs permanently in the square in front of City Hall in the 11th arrondissmemt. You can be assured that we will continue to seek your immediate release together with FIDH, where you serve as a vice-president.”
As a sign of its gratitude, FIDH gave Mayor Delanoë a letter Ales Bialiatski wrote about his last visit to Paris preceding his arrest, when he attended a meeting of the FIDH International Board that took place in City Hall. Bialiatski wrote about these recollections when he was already in prison.
Photo : Guillaume Buck