Organization Committee of Charter’97 Declares Holders of National Prize on Human Rights’2006
According to RFE/RL
The prize holders are Mikalai Statkevich, Pavel Seviarynets, Siarhei Skrabets, Mikalai Autukhovich, Andrei Klimau and also the Union of Poles in Belarus and Yakub Kolas National Humanities Lyceum, the organizations that continue their activities despite the state pressurization.
The coordinator of Charter’97 Andrei Sannikau said:
-- Even the list of this year’s prize holders shows how much the situation of human rights in Belarus worsened. All of them, except of the two organizations, are either in prisons or open colonies. This prize is a tribute to the courage and dignity of these people and the evidence that one can continue seeking the truth being detained, arrested or imprisoned.
Two of the prize holders, Siarhei Skrabets and Mikalai Autukhovich, defended their rights with long hunger-strikes, putting at risk their health and lives.
The political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich noted that thanks to Charter’97 and independent press she managed to improve the conditions of the personal restraint, He also said he attentively watched the situation in Baranavichy and all over Belarus:
-- People are intimidated. Activists of democratic organizations and ordinary citizens often come to me and I have to somehow calm them down. The situation is worsening, and the last “draft laws” are aimed at cultivation of fear. I am sure that democratic forces mustn’t retreat.
Anzhalika Borys, the chair of the Union of Poles of Belarus who isn’t recognized as such by the Belarusian authorities, thinks it is very sad people have to fight for human rights, liberty of word and assembly in the center of Europe. Despite the circumstances, we try to preserve the unity of the organization which exists mainly thanks to our people. I don’t know how long it will last and how long we will manage to do it, but I believe everyone must fight for his rights.
Uladzimir Kolas, director of the closed National Humanities University, thinks the list of the prize holders eloquently witnesses the situation in Belarus that is dangerous to all opposition-minded people:
-- In the very beginning we firmly decided to keep working until the end, in any conditions, till we will be physically able to do it. And we do it: our teachers teach and pupils learn with pleasure. The lyceum is still alive.