PACE President is confident that hard work of Belarusian human rights defenders will yield results
Meeting with the head of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Ales Bialiatski, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Anne Brasseur assured him of the full support of the work of human rights defenders in Belarus by PACE.
The meeting took place July 2 in Strasbourg. Ales Bialiatski was accompanied by his colleagues - FIDH President Karime Lahidji and Head of Eastern Europe and Central Asia FIDH Department Sasha Kulaeva.
Anne Brasseur used this opportunity to congratulate Ales Bialiatski, both personally and on behalf of the Assembly, on being awarded the first Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize in September 2013. At that time, however, Ales Bialiatski was unable to attend the award ceremony, as he was serving a prison term since August 2011. PACE President discussed with Ales Bialiatski the human rights situation in Belarus and the possible role of the Assembly in its improvement.
"Mr. Bialiatski is for us a symbol of unbreakable commitment to human rights. We sincerely welcome his release from prison on June 21, I'm impressed with his strong desire to continue his very valuable work in the field of human rights and cooperation with the Assembly and the Council of Europe," said Madame Brasseur.
"Appreciating the commitment of Bialiatski, I also want to express our full support for the work of human rights defenders in Belarus, who are forced to fight for our common values in very difficult conditions. I am sure that this hard work will not be in vain, and I hope that their help Belarus will soon become a truly democratic state that respects the rule of law and Council of Europe standards in the field of human rights," noted PACE President.
Ales Bialiatski and his colleagues from FIDH also had a meeting with with theSecretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland, during which they talked about Ales' release and the situation in the region.
The human rights activist spoke about the need to continue to seek the release of other political prisoners in Belarus and the repeal of Article 193.1, criminalizing activities of unregistered NGOs, the basis for which is an appropriate conclusion of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.
Ales Bialiatski also attended the first session of the newly elected European Parliament, where the newly elected President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, before the debate, told MPs on the presence of Belarusian human rights activist, recalled the EP resolutions demanding his release and told telling about his struggle.
MEPs welcomed Ales thunderous applause.
That day in Strasbourg, the former political prisoner and his colleagues from the FIDH also had some more meetings: with the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle. Ales Bialiatski also gave a press conference in the European Parliament and an interview to EU observer- independent online publication that covers political developments in the European Union, as well as topical issues related to human rights, democratization issues in the EU, etc.