INDIGNATION: HUMAN RIGHT DEFENDER, ALES BIALIATSKI, SENTENCED TO 4 AND A HALF YEARS IMPRISONMENT UNDER STRICT REGIME IN BELARUS
Ales Bialiatski, Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and President of the Belarusian Human Rights Center “Viasna”, was sentenced to four and a half years strict regime detention, the payment of a fine, as well as the confiscation of his property, including Viasna’s offices and property registered with members of his family.
The participants of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum calls for his immediate and unconditional release and for all charges against him to be abandoned.
On 24 November, Belarus witnessed the judicial reprisal of the prominent human rights defender, that was found guilty of alleged “tax evasion on a large scale”.
The participants of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, declared to know Ales as an impartial and outspoken human rights defender, who has persistently and consciously protected the ideals of human rights and democracy under authoritarian circumstances.
They expressed their resolute protest at Ales Bialiatski’s conviction and reiterate their position on his prosecution, voiced following his arrest in August 2011.
In the statement they also declare:
• The prosecution and conviction of Ales Bialiatski on tax charges cannot disguise the true reasons for the harassment of the human rights defender. We are convinced that the tax charges, as well as the ill-treatment of personal bank accounts in EU countries meant for human rights activities in Belarus are nothing but a pretext for isolating the key figure of the country’s human rights movement. We would also like to stress that the trial failed to produce even indirect evidence of Ales Bialiatski’s guilt, for which he was severely punished.
• We believe that the verdict to Ales Bialiatski is the result of many years of the Belarusian authorities’ repressive policy against human rights defenders and groups for their criticism of the country’s human rights record. We demand an immediate release and rehabilitation of Ales Bialiatski.
• We call upon the European Union countries to share the responsibility for the fate of Ales Bialiatski and take joint measures for the release of the human rights defender, as well as other prisoners of conscience, as there should be no political prisoners in the countries that have signed the Eastern Partnership Declaration.