61st Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights shows: we should protect our rights everywhere and always
Our country has undertaken before the whole word to respect, protect and guarantee human rights. To which extent these international undertakings are implemented? Let’s focus on one of the most important stances of the Declaration set out in Article 3: ‘Everyone has the right to life, freedom and security of person’.
The right to life is inalienable and no one can be deprived of life even in the name of the state. At the same time, Belarus is the only country in Europe and in the post-Soviet space where the death penalty is still in action. This year two people have been sentenced to death.
In 2009 the Belarusian human rights defenders and civil society activists actively struggled for the right of every human being to life. The campaign Human Rights Defenders against Death Penalty was launched in Belarus. Within the frames of this campaign there was prepared a petition to the Belarusian authorities with the demand to abolish the death penalty in Belarus. The petition was signed by many famous public figures, politicians, artists, musicians and literary workers.
A press-conference dedicated to the issue of death penalty was held in cooperation with Amnesty International. At this event the human rights defenders presented the report: Let’s Stop Death Penalty in Europe: On the Way to Death Penalty Abolishment in Belarus that contains a thorough analysis of the political, social and moral aspects of this issue.
During the year numerous pickets and performances were held in different parts of Belarus to draw the public attention to the question of the death penalty abolishment. The actions in Minsk, Hrodna, Brest, Baranavichy, Mahiliou and Navapolatsk were the most active. The Belarusian human rights defenders handed out thousands of postcards that had been designed by Amnesty International and contained the petition to the president for the abolishment of the death penalty. Many receivers submitted these addresses to the presidential administration.
The public concern with the topic of death penalty was eloquently demonstrated by the contest of artistic works, among the participants of which there were artists, journalists, literary workers and students. The results of the contests and the names of the prize winners were announced on 10 October, International Day against the Death Penalty.
Even the Belarusian authorities had to count with the actions of the human rights defenders and eventually recognized that there was such an issue in the country.
The campaign on the death penalty abolition in Belarus showed one more time that the authorities are not always ready to abide by the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and therefore it is important that all people should defend their rights everywhere and always.