Ales Bialiatski becomes honorary citizen of Syracuse
On February 26, the municipal authorities of Syracuse (Italian region of Sicily) awarded Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski the title of honorary citizenship of Syracuse, the “city of peace and human rights”.
The ceremony was held in the Paolo Borsellino hall with the participation of the Mayor of Syracuse Giancarlo Garrozzo, chairman of the City Council Antonio Sullo, deputies of the city municipality, representatives of various non-governmental organizations and activists of Amnesty International’s Group 85, which was the initiator of honoring the Belarusian human rights activist.
A decision to award Ales Bialiatski with the title of an honorary citizen of Syracuse on the proposal of the city Mayor was unanimously adopted by the City Council deputies of 11 November 2014. They found that the Belarusian human rights activist “fully fits and corresponds” to the cultural traditions of the city of Syracuse, which was declared a “city of peace and human rights”.
This is emphasized in the decision of the deputies of the municipality, which they took “having examined the application of the Mayor to grant honorary citizenship to Ales Bialiatski, President of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, given that he was wrongly arrested and subjected to forced labor, given that he was recognized by Amnesty International a prisoner of conscience and is a courageous human rights defender and fully fit and corresponds to the cultural traditions of our city, which was declared a “city of peace and human rights”.
Describing the situation of human rights in Belarus, Viasna leader expressed to all those present at the ceremony his gratitude for the support to the democratic community of his country. “No doubt, awarding me with this honorary title also aims to strengthen the democratic traditions and trends in our society and against authoritarianism that prevails in Belarus today. The authorities of Syracuse demonstrate high standards in respect of human rights, which are above the standards of such European countries as today’s Belarus, where there are political prisoners, the death penalty and the power controls by intimidating the society,” said Ales Bialiatski.
Peace and human rights require constant attention, and since Europe is a small continent, today’s events in its eastern part are not so far away from Sicily, so the personal involvement of the Sicilian society in what is happening is very important, says the human rights activist.
Ales Bialiatski visited Syracuse during his visit to Italy, organized by the national branch of the human rights organization Amnesty International. Its activists actively supported the Belarusian the human rights activist during his politically motivated imprisonment in 2011-2014.
In 2010, the municipality of Genoa awarded Viasna leader the title of an honorary citizen of the city, and during his imprisonment in 2011, Ales Bialiatski was awarded honorary citizenship of Paris.