European Parliament Vice-President's letter to Ales Bialiatski: "I write to assure you of the European Parliament's determination to have you released"
Dear Ales Bialiatski,
I write to you in my capacity as Vice-President of the European Parliament for Democracy & Human Rights, and as a deeply concerned individual.
I have become aware of your situation due to the international outcry at your arrest, sentence and imprisonment on charges of tax evasion. Being familiar with your extensive work in the field of human rights, I join the international community in rejecting these allegations, and in calling for your immediate release.
Having worked in the field of human rights since my election to the European Parliament in 1984, I have met many brave and inspiring individuals fighting for fundamental rights and freedoms. Yet the bravery with which individuals fight against oppressive regimes from within their own countries, as is the case with you, never ceases to amaze me. The fight for human rights under a regime that openly scorns these values is a difficult and dangerous task. Indeed, one can be certain that it is your continued efforts to promote democracy and the rule of law, as well as the extensive support your organisation Viasna has given to victims of political repression in Belarus, that has resulted in your imprisonment.
Yet it is the fight against tyranny that pushes countries towards progress and democracy. Your sudden imprisonment and the accompanying harassment of Viasna arc the actions of a despotic regime that is stalling to be scared of its people. It is no surprise that the harassment of Viasna began immediately after citizens tried to storm the Belarusian Government's Headquarters in July 2010 in protest at the rigged elections. The work of human rights activists such as yourself has empowered citizens, and the wheels of progress are now in motion.
I write to assure you of the European Parliament's determination to have you released, and of our continued efforts to help Belarus on its path to democracy. On 3rd March this year, the House adopted a Motion for Resolution, calling on Belarus to "immediately and unconditionally release and rehabilitate all those detained on political grounds”, whilst strongly criticising "the continuation of the repressive measures against members of the democratic opposition, the free media, civil society activists and human rights defenders". Furthermore, as a firm supporter of sanctions against the regime, you will be glad to know that on 27 February the EU imposed sanctions against 21 Belarusian jurists and policemen who were said to have been involved in the repression of opposition activists. Such sanctions will continue as long as the Belarusian regime denies its citizens democracy and abuses their human rights. The EU will also continue to maintain a dialogue with organisations fighting for human rights and democracy in Belarus, so as to be able to exert effective international pressure.
Edward McMillan Scott МЕР
Edward McMillan-Scott МЕР (Yorkshire-Humber, Liberal Democrat) is Vice-President of the European Parliament for Democracy and Human Rights.