Valiantsin Stefanovich: no one can prohibit human rights activities to me
Lawyer Valiantsin Stefanovich, one of the founders of the civil human rights association Nasha Viasna, gave the following commentary concerning the registration denial:
We are very upset by the decision of the Ministry of Justice not to register Nasha Viasna, because when we submitted documents for registration, we hoped to receive the legal status, so that we could legally deal with human rights activities in conformity with the present legislation. However, our hopes did not come true. I should remind that it is already the second refusal to register an association, established by members of the Human Rights Center Viasna that was liquidated in 2003. We consider it as system discrimination of the organization founders, because we have been deprived of the opportunity to realize our constitutional right to association for a long time already, athwart the decision of the UN Human Rights Committee of 2007, in which it is stated that the liquidation of the Human Rights Center Viasna was a violation of Article 22 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. All those who submitted individual complaints to the Committee (there were about ten such people) were declared victims of human rights violations. By this decision the Belarusian government was proposed to take measures for re-registration of the association within 90-day term and take measures for prevention of similar violations in future. However, as we can see, the Belarusian authorities not only didn’t implement the decision of the UN Human Rights Committee, but also have twice refused to register a new organization. That’s why we consider it as systematic discrimination and are going to sue to the Supreme Court. If it upholds the authorities we will again apply to the UN Human Rights Committee in order to prove that it is discrimination of concrete persons for concrete political reasons. I would also like to state that no one can prohibit human rights activities to me, and I will deal with it irrespective of registration or non-registration.
- The demand to register HRC Viasna was included in the resolution of the European Parliament. To your mind, can non-registration of this human rights association influence the conclusions of the European Union about the negotiations with Belarus?
V.S.: I think they will take into account the non-registration of our association, as well the ongoing politically motivated persecution in the country. In February we observed some recession, including disbandment of peaceful rallies and absence of system changes aimed at democratization. It is difficult for me to predict the behavior of the EU structures, but I know for sure that we are interested in the negotiation process and the dialogue between the European Union and Belarus. However, we don’t need a dialogue for its own sake, but real changes. At present we see only polemics, that can be pleasant to our ears, as the authorities no longer say how terrible the West and the EU are, and speak more of their interest in cooperation, the renewal of the country’s status in the Council of Europe, etc. Of course, we, as citizens of our country, would welcome it, but we are waiting for concrete steps and changes.