Ales Bialiatski: Awarding of the Vaclav Havel Prize - a strong signal to the Azerbaijani authorities
Ales Bialiatski, head of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights, was in Strasbourg at the opening session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where on September 29 has been named the winner of the Vaclav Havel Prizeon human rights.
Prize was awarded to the head of the Azerbaijani Election Monitoring Center and democracy training Anar Mammedli, who is political prisoner.
Ales Bialiatski, who, while in custody, was the first winner of the award named after the former president of the Czech Republic for outstanding achievements in the field of human rights, said that today's event made him see parallels with his situation and that it was largely symbolic. "It was a bit strange for me to see all this, because the situation was similar to the previous year, when my wife Natalia was at a ceremony in Strasbourg, because I could not attend. Today again there was no winner of the award - Anar, but there was his father Hasan, who made his speech, referring to the fact that his son is not here.” It should be noted that Anar Mammedliwas also arrested after the presidential election, as Ales Bialiatski in his time - government retaliated them both for the organization of observation and active advocacy position after the election campaign.
During the opening of the parliamentary session, the PACE President An Braser noted that the presence at this ceremony in the Council of Europe's recent political prisoner, for the liberation of which stubbornly fought the international community, is symbolic. Member of the organizing committee of the award, Thomas Hammarberg, the ex-Council of European Ombudsman, in a conversation with Ales Bialiatski also expressed the hope that the awarding of this prize will contribute to the liberation of Anar Mammedli, as it was in the case of his Belarusian counterpart.
There were 56 candidates on the Vaclav Havel Prize this year, of whom three were chosen as finalists, and, according to representatives of the organizing committee, during the determining of the winner were pretty persistent discussions, because the meaning of this prize is to not only maintain its recipient, but also to give a signal to the society and the government of the country, a representative of which is awarded. And, as noted Ales Bialiatski, each of the three in the shortlisted countries has its own specifics."Malta has huge problems with migrants, as you know a lot of people drowning while trying to reach the island, through which they are trying to get to Europe. In general, the issue of migration is now becoming bigger in Europe. That’s why the Jesuit organization was nominated for the prize as a symbol of the severity of this problem and as an organization that is trying to solve it. Israeli-Palestinian conflict - of course, is also a huge problem. And because the organization B'tselem unites the two sides - the Israelis and Palestinians, its work is also symbolic. As for the situation in Azerbaijan, everyone is worrying about the attempt of the government to defeat the human rights movement in the country - the persecution of human rights organizations, arrests of well-known and respected human rights defenders as Leila Yunus, Intyham Alieu, Rasul Jafarau ... One of them is Anar Mammedli. Awarding him this prize is a powerful signal to the Azerbaijani authorities to stop repressions against the civil society. "
Symbolism of the awarding of the Azerbaijani political prisoners in the fact that Azerbaijan is the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, emphasizes Ales Bialiatski. "I'm very glad to awarding of Anar because we, Belarusian human rights activists, concerned about the fate of our colleagues from Azerbaijan and I hope that this award will help in the issue of the strengthening of the civil society in their country."
At the same time human rights activist says sadly: for the second year in a row the Vaclav Havel Prizeis awarded to the representatives of the post-Soviet countries, and it shows that the problems with human rights in this region are extremely sharp.