Trial of Belarus Human Rights Defender Ales Bialiatski Opens Today
Dublin, Ireland, November 2, 2011 – As the trial of Human Rights Defender Ales Bialiatski opened today in Minsk Maskouski district court, Front Line Defenders Deputy Director Andrew Anderson remained in Dublin, unable to enter Belarus to meet with Bialiatski's family members and colleagues at Human Rights Centre Viasna.
Ales Bialiatsky has been brought up on what are widely regarded as trumped up charges of tax evasion and faces up to seven years in prison. He is the chairman of Human Rights Centre 'Viasna' (HRC 'Viasna'), one of biggest human rights groups in Belarus that works to defend and promote political, cultural and social rights. He is also the Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). Bialiatski was arrested on 4 August 2011 and charged with tax evasion. Belarus has not allowed Viasna to register since 2003, and has taken increasingly draconian steps to prevent freedom of assembly and association.
Front Line Defenders calls on the international community to push for Bialiatski's immediate release and for the charges to be dropped, as well as for international media outlets to report on this story from what is commonly called “Europe's last dictatorship.”
Andrew Anderson, upon learning of the denial of entry visa, issued a video statement from Dublin, and said: “It's a sign of the desperation of the Belarus government that they continue to try to persecute anybody who speaks out in defense of human rights in Belarus.”
Front Line Defenders will do all it can to monitor the trial, despite the Belarusian authorities efforts to keep a curtain over what transpires in this trial.
Video of statment available here.