International response

Mark C. Toner, Deputy Spokesperson of the US Department of State, Daily press briefing

Turning to Belarus, we are deeply concerned about the arrest and detention of Ales Byalyatski, who is a prominent human rights activist and the head of the NGO Vyasno — Vyasna, rather, the human rights center, one of only two human rights organizations in Belarus. Independent nongovernmental organizations such as Vyasna play a critical role in any democratic society and Byalyatski’s – Ms. Byalyatski’s arrest represents another unfortunate sign of Belarus’s self-isolation and violation of international standards on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

The United States calls on the Government of Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Byalyatski and the more than 40 political prisoners in Belarus today. Sorry, I believe I referred to him as Ms...

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Statement by the spokesperson of EU Hight Representative Catherine Ashton on the arrest of Ales Bialiatski

The High Representative expresses her concern over reports that the authorities in Belarus detained Mr Ales Bialiatski, a prominent human rights defender who is chairman of the non- governmental organization Viasna and Vice-President of the International Human Rights Federation, and that Mr Bialiatski’ s private residence was searched, with the participation of the state security services.

The High Representative calls on the authorities in Minsk to clarify as a matter of urgency the reasons for the reported detention of Mr Bialiatski. The High Representative reiterates her strong regret at repeated acts of intimidation and harassment of peaceful human rights defenders in Belarus, and at the continued refusal to grant legal status to independent human rights organisations in the country.

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Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic on Belarus

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic expresses its deepest concern over the yesterday’s arrest of Aliaksandr Bialiatski, President of Human Rights Center Viasna and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights. This action is particularly worrying given the context of recent steps taken by the Belarusian government to restrict the freedom of assembly and continuous harassment of civic activists.

The Czech Republic therefore calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Bialiatski and urges Belarusian authorities to stop all kinds of repression against him, his organization and human rights activists in general. The Czech Republic appreciates the unwavering efforts of Mr...

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Markus Löning, German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy

The German Government demands that human rights activist Ales Bialiatski be set free immediately. This action is evidently intended to forcibly silence a committed representative of Belarusian civil society. The German Government condemns this abuse of the criminal code for political goals in the strongest possible terms.

The repression of opposition NGOs and their activists must end and political prisoners in Belarus must finally be released.

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Andres Herkel (Estonia, EPP/CD), the rapporteur on Belarus for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)

Since 1996, Viasna has provided legal assistance to thousands of Belarusians who were fined, arrested or imprisoned for criticising Alyakdsandr Lukashenka’s authoritarian policies. Viasna has also been active in reporting on the police crackdown on a recent series of peaceful rallies following the presidential elections. Since April 2011, Mr Bialiatski has been the subject of a smear campaign, in which he is presented as public enemy number one in Belarus.

Mr Bialiatski’s arrest is yet another instance in a pattern of harassment and intimidation towards civil society. It is high time political abuse of the criminal law in Belarus comes to an end.

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U.S. Embassy condemns the Detention of Viasna leader Ales Bialiatski

The August 4 detention of Viasna 96 leader Ales Byalyatski  is extremely troubling and represents another, unfortunate sign of Belarus’ self-isolation and further deviation from European standards and principles.  In democratic societies, independent NGOs like Viasna 96  — who the government continues to refuse to register –play a crucial role in the all important system of checks and balances. Recognizing this, societies pass laws creating conditions for the “third sector” to function and flourish. They do not try to marginalize civil society by denying registration and harassing and detaining NGO members.

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