Two years have passed since arrest of Ales Bialiatski

2013 2013-08-04T14:28:07+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

Today marks exactly two years since the arrest of Ales Bialiatski - Vice prezident of the International Federation for Human Rights, the head of the human rights center "Viasna", closed by the Belarusian authorities. The International Day of Solidarity with Civil Society of Belarus is timed to this date.

Ales Bialiatski was arrested in Minsk on 4 August 2011. In November of the same year, he was convicted of concealing income on a large scale, and sentenced to four and a half years' imprisonment in a maximum security prison with confiscation of property.

The basis for the prosecution was the use of Bialiatski's foreign bank accounts for accumulation of funds for human rights advocacy. Due to the fact that the HRC “Viasna” continued operating illegally after being liquidated by the authorities in 2003 it was impossible for it to open bank accounts in its name in Belarus. Moreover, the authorities have repeatedly denied official registration to the organization. The court also ignored the fact that the damage, allegedly caused by Bialiatski, was fully repaid by the voluntary contributions of citizens.

The human rights activist, serving his sentence in Babruisk, is officially recognized as a prisoner of conscience.

The International Day of Solidarity with the Civil Society of Belarus was dated to the day of Bialiatski's arrest. The event is dedicated to the contemporary humanists and visionaries, as well as to the people and organizations that represent a Belarus of freedom and resistance. Solidarity actions were held in many countries.

As for Belarus, the bids to host 4 August pickets of solidarity with political prisoners were filed in more than ten cities. In all cases, the events were banned by local authorities.

On the eve of the Day of Solidarity with the Civil Society of Belarus, the International Federation for Human Rights once again called on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release its vice-President Ales Bialiatski. The calls for an immediate release of Bialiatski and cessation of harassment of human rights defenders were also voiced by the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus Miklos Haraszti and the U.S. Department of State.