The first visit of the Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Ales Bialiatski to Paris has come to an end. Before this, he had last visited Paris three years ago, a month before his arrest. All subsequent years members of the Federation throughout the world held solidarity actions and took every effort to secure his release.
FIDH staff, young activists, interpreters – all those who played an active part in the fate of the recent political prisoner – gathered for the long awaited meeting.
July 5 Ales Bialiatski received the certificate of a honorary citizen of Paris at the City Hall. Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe awarded Ales Bialiatski with this rank in October 2012. Before his retirement from this post, he passed it to Ales’ son, Adam Bialiatski, in December 2013.
At the award ceremony, Advisor to the Mayor of Paris on Foreign Relations Patrick Klugman noted the role of Ales Bialiatski both as the head of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” in Belarus and as vice president of FIDH. He recalled that the previous mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe wrote a letter to the political prisoner in the colony, and the mayor of the 11th district, on the decision of the Board of the City of Paris, set a portrait of the human rights defender in front of the Mayor’s Office of the 11th District, where the Paris FIDH office is situated.
Ales Bialiatski thanked the Mayor’s Office, noting the support provided by it not only warmed him, but also influenced the administration of the colony, in part by serving him as a safe-conduct. He also recalled that the first Belarusian, who received the rank of an honorary citizen of the city of Paris, was a resident of Homel Vasil Siarohin, who fought with French pilots in the division “Normandie-Niemen” on the Soviet-German front in 1943-1945.
“Just as our parents fought together against fascism, together we will fight for human rights and building a democratic society,” he said and asked the Mayor’s Office of Paris to continue its support to civil society in Belarus, which still actively struggles for human rights.
After the ceremony at the City Hall, Mr. Bialiatski was received by French Ambassador at Large for Human Rights Patrizianna Sparacino-Thiellay and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At this meeting, the human rights activist stated that Belarus still had seven political prisoners and urged the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to further efforts in their early release.
During the visit to Paris Ales Bialiatski also met with French journalists, in particular with representatives of such dailies as Le Monde, La Croix and the French International radio (RFI).