Ales Bialiatski: Belarus should be a country without political prisoners
“It is OK to be in prison for the sake of a democratic, independent Belarus,” said Ales Bialiatski during a press conference held today in the Minsk office of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”. He then crossed out his name on a T-shirt bearing the names of the remaining seven political prisoners.
“We should not be afraid of pressure and repression. I knew for what I was in prison, so my time there was easy. I am grateful to tens of thousands of people who have supported me. I am grateful to the Belarusian and international human rights organizations.”
“I hope that my release is only the beginning. I call on the Belarusian authorities not to stop releasing political prisoners with Bialiatski. Belarus should be a country without political prisoners. And we are close to it, seven political prisoners should be freed and a moratorium on detention should be declared,” said Ales Bialiatski.
“I have read the MIA’s comments that they were going to release 400 people held on the same charges. But I was a “repeated infringer”. No one could explain anything within the colony. It is clear that it’s not them who decides. The release was a surprise to me,as nothing hinted at it in the morning. We have two people amnestied in our colony.”
“It is clear that the charges that I faced – this is a purely political trial. Even before my arrest, it was clear that Viasna’s activities aroused great interest in the KGB. I had to choose: either leave the country or stay here and prove that I am not guilty of the charges.
The authorities aimed at intimidating the civil society. Was it a success? Not to the extent as they had wanted. I did not betray my words and activities. The release is not a change in my stand. It is the authorities who are forced to make concessions in order to normalize relations. There is and there has always been total control over society. I’m aware of the pressure exerted on the other political prisoners. No fundamental changes in society are visible.
I do not very much enjoy the fact that I have been released. After all, three years have passed and nothing has changed in the country.”
“Back in the colony,we had Belarusian and Russian TV channels, and the Russian ones were more popular. The rabid Russian military propaganda certainly has an impact on prisoners in particular and on citizens in general. In small towns people are brainwashed so easily in this way.”
“The future is in our hands. When they are talking of the hands of the West and the role of the U.S. – it is nonsense. Belarusians themselves have to change the situation. In the best case, we deserve sympathy, but no one would bring us democracy.”
“I had no choice whether to write or not to write a petition. Never thought of that. Officially, I was twice offered to write a petition to Lukashenka. First, in September 2011, and again in January 2014 after the press conference by Aliaksandr Lukashenka. In the colonies, many things are not said, but you are being pushed with actions, some small provocations and restrictions.”
“All talks about a thawin relations with the West can only be started after the release of all political prisoners. There can be no situation of Azerbaijan. We must have a zone without political prisoners. We must not slip into a situation of lawlessness and iniquity.”
“I’m not going to emigrate, I feel very comfortable here. I may be getting old, but I’m concerned about the atmosphere of the Belarusian society. In the West, you feel out of place.”
“I’ll do as much as possible for the sake of human rights activities. This will be my main job. I will continue to write,I began to enjoy it in prison. I wrote literary article and essays.”
“Prison conditions forpolitical prisoners are different: isolation from other prisoners (if someone says hello to you, thenthe person disappears). The unitwas cleared of those who were subscribed to the Narodnaya Volya when I appeared there. Psychologically, it crushes you when others are frightened of you. However, you can be get used to it.”
“I will face certain restrictions. Today I will be registered with the police, and then I’ll find it out.”
“I have never had any desire to run for President,including now. Firstly, I was born in Russia. Secondly, I do not see myself as a politician. Civil activities are even more relevant today than the political ones. We have a lot of presidential candidates, more power to them.”
“Russia is a European country, and sooner or later it will join the European countries. The solution of the Belarusian or Ukrainian issue is possible only due to the changes in Russia.”
Source: nn.by, photos by Siarhei Hudzilin