Havel Prize nominees congratulate Ales Bialiatski
A letter of congratulation to Ales Bialiatski currently held in Babruisk penal colony came from the Hungarian-based Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC).
The center's executive director, Oliver Lewis, writes that the Hungarian defenders follow the fate of the Belarusian political prisoner and wrote to the Belarusian authorities in connection with his unjust persecution, while the personality of Ales Bialiatski inspired them for the further struggle for human rights.
“I write with warm wishes following the news that you were recently awarded the Vaclav Havel prize for human rights. It was an honour for us at MDAC to be nominated and long-listed for the same prize, and we warmly congratulate you on being the first awardee.
We work with human rights defenders around the world, all of whom fight for the rights of people with mental disabilities. People such as yourself inspire us to continue to speak up against the human rights violations that many people continue to face every day. We never tire of raising the awareness of just how many people find themselves locked in institutions simply for having a disability, or those who are subjected to psychiatric treatment due to their political views.
Our staff have been following your case for some time and we believe that your continuing detention is unjust. We have also written to the Belarussian government to express our concern. I know that this may be little comfort to you, but I hope you can feel that the international community is with you.
Please accept our warmest wishes, and we look forward to the day when you regain your freedom.
Oliver Lewis Executive Director”
In response, Ales Bialiatski thanks Oliver Lewis and his colleagues from MDAC for their kind words of support.
27 candidates were nominated for this year’s Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, which is awarded by PACE in association with the Vaclav Havel Library and the "Charter 77" Foundation. The Hungarian Hungarian-based Mental Disability Advocacy Center was among the six nominees for the award, along with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeeva, the Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski, the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association and the Chinese organization Rights Defence Network. The last three were later shortlisted for the award. On September 30, Ales Bialiatski, the imprisoned head of the HRC "Viasna" and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), was announced the winner.