National Human Rights Award winners announced
On the International Human Rights Day, December 10, a coalition of human rights organizations of Belarus held a ceremony in Minsk to present the annual National Human Rights Awards.
The winner in the nomination “Human Rights Defender of the Year” is Tatsiana Aheyeva, a prominent human rights lawyer who died from the coronavirus at the age of 64 on November 2.
Following the events of 2010, when many lawyers defended dozens of arrested presidential candidates and participants in post-election protests, Aheyeva, like some other lawyers, was deprived of her counsel’s license for upholding the principles of legal independence.
Later, Tatsiana Aheyeva worked with the Center for Legal Transformation and the Belarusian Documentation Center.
Aheyeva was the author of eight individual communications against the Republic of Belarus registered with the UN Human Rights Committee, including one complaint on behalf of Ulyana Zakharanka, the mother of Yury Zakharanka, former Interior Minister who disappeared in 1999.
In 2016-2017, she was a member of a working group for the preparation of the Principles of Belarusian Human Rights Defenders, which were eventually adopted at the IV Belarusian Forum of Human Rights Defenders.
The winners in the nomination “Journalist of the Year” are three journalists: Katsiaryna Andreyeva, Darya Chultsova and Katsiaryna Barysevich. All of them are now behind bars.
Katsiaryna Andreyeva is a Belsat TV reporter. She specializes in live street reports, during which she was repeatedly detained and later convicted. She also covered the topic of corruption and made a series of stories about the war in the Donbass. Andreyeva is facing charges under Part 1 of Art. 342 of the Criminal Code.
Darya Chultsova is a Belsat TV camerawoman. On November 15, she worked together with Katsiaryna Andreyeva, filming what was happening in the “Square of Changes” from the window of a local apartment. She is also charged under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code.
Katsiaryna Barysevich is a TUT.BY journalist who specializes in legal issues. She writes about high-profile criminal cases and court proceedings. The Prosecutor General's Office opened a criminal case against her under Part 3 of Article 178 of the Criminal Code for her story about the medical condition of the deceased activist Raman Bandarenka.
#BYCOVID19 received the award in the nomination “Campaign/Initiative of the Year”.
#BYCOVID19 is a medical assistance initiative that started in late March. Within the main fundraising campaign on the MolaMola crowdfunding platform alone, the initiative collected about 360 thousand rubles (MolaMola accounts were eventually blocked in connection with the Belgazprombank case). #BYCOVID19 volunteers helped hundreds of health facilities across the country, delivering hundreds of thousands of personal protective equipment kits to the medics. They also provided them with hundreds of pulse oximeters, non-contact thermometers, dozens of air-recirculation devices and germicidal lamps.
The National Human Rights Award was established in 2008 by the Human Rights Alliance. Since 2011, the award has been shared by the entire Belarusian human rights community.
The co-founders of the award are the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the Belarusian Documentation Center, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the Human Rights Center "Viasna", the Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House, the Solidarity Committee, the Center for Legal Transformation, the Human Rights Alliance, and the Legal Initiative Initiative against Lawlessness in Courts and Prosecutor’s Offices.