Actions of solidarity held in many countries of the world
of people around the world have joined the International Day of
Solidarity with Belarusian civil society. Human rights defenders,
civil society activists, politicians, artists and ordinary citizens
from 15 countries took part in solidarity actions on 4 August.
This is not an occasional date: 4 August marks the anniversary of the arrest of the famous Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, the head of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and Vice-President of the International Federation of Human Rights.
On this day in 2011, he was arrested and later sentenced to 4.5 years in prison. Ales is serving his sentence in prison in Babruisk, Belarus.
In 2012, this day was marked by the mass actions in support of Ales Bialiatski and other political prisoners, as well as civil society in Belarus, so it was decided to declare 4 August the International Day of Solidarity.
According to by.soli-day.org, this year events were held in several cities in Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Germany, as well as Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and the United States.
The day of solidarity received a wide coverage in the media and a strong political support – 15 members of the European Parliament from different countries issued a special statement, urging the Belarusian authorities to release Ales Bialiatski and to respect the international commitments of the country in the field of human rights protection. A statement was also made by Miklos Haraszti – UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus.
The Solidarity Day was supported almost by all major international human rights and civic organizations. Special materials and applications on this day published the Human Rights House Network, Freedom House, CIVICUS (World Alliance for Citizen Participation). The International Federation for Human Rights acted as a partner of the Solidarity Day and also announced a major international campaign in support of Ales. Amnesty International has supported the campaign in Russia and Ukraine.
On that day, public discussions on the situation of Belarusian human rights defenders, the death penalty and the development of civil society in the country were organized in many cities. Special attention was paid to the case of Ales Bialiatski: his photos could be seen everywhere and the activists collected signatures under petitions for his release. During a number of the actions all interested people were given an opportunity to sign postcards to Ales Bialiatski.
Mass actions were held in the centers of many European cities includingWarsaw, Prague and Berlin. Their participants handed out leaflets about Ales and other political prisoners and collected signatures in his support.
On 5 August in Vilnius a protest action was held near the Belarusian Embassy. It's participants passed to the embassy an appeal with the demand to release Ales Bialiatski and other political prisoners and immediately stop repression against Belarusian activists.
On 4 August in Moscow there was held an exhibition of works of Belarusian photographers, mostly devoted to various aspects of the civil society, the presentation of the book "Bialiatski's Case" by writer and journalist Valery Kalinouski and a round table "Will Russia become Belarus?" discussing the parallels in the development of the civil society in the both countries.
In Zurich, an action of solidarity was held by activists of the Navapolatsk public association “Free Region” with the assistance of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
The participants posted leaflets with the addresses of 12 political prisoners and two posters with the slogan “Freedom for Ales Bialiatski” in English and Russian.
The same posters were pasted on advertisement pillars. The activists also handed out leaflets with hte addresses of the 12 political prisoners and the proposal to write them letters of support. The participants of the action noted that the local citizens knew little about Belarus and the existence of political prisoners in the country. However, one of the passers-by noted, tat one of the local newspapers wrote about the rigging of the parliamentary election in Belarus in 2012.
In Prague, the action on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the civil society of Belarus and in support of the political prisoners was held with the participation of the Organization for the modernization of the Czech Republic, the civil campaign "Our House", as well as the international association "Civil Belarus" and "People in Need".
On 4 August an action of solidarity with the Belarusian civil society activists was also held in the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, by the human rights movement "Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan".
Warsaw was one of the cities where the Day of Solidarity with the Belarusian civil society was held on a large scale. Horizon Group together with the Helsinki Foundation stated that Belarus is the last country in Europe to apply the death penalty.
In Kyiv, the Maryinskiy park was declared the “Space of Free Belarus” for the whole day on 4 August. Lectures, discussions and photo exhibitions were held there. Unknown provocateurs tried to assault the photo exhibition, but didn't manage to disrupt the event.