Ales Bialiatski takes part in Forum 2000 in Prague
In his speech at the opening of the 19th annual conference that is traditionally held with an emphasis on human rights, the head of the HRC “Viasna” criticized the present “pretended democracy” in Belarus.
Forum 2000 that opened in Prague on September 13 is dedicated to the issues of democracy and education. The conference was opened by the director of the fund “Forum 2000” Jakub Klepal and the scientist Ivan Havel, brother of the ex-president of the Czech Republic Václav Havel who initiated Forum 2000 in the second half of the 1990-ies.
After the solemn opening, the situation in their respective home countries was described to the audience by Lilian Tintori, wife of an imprisoned Venezuelan opposition leader, Azerbaijani political scientist Leila Alieva and head of the Belarusian centre for human rights Ales Bialiatski.
Bialiatski pointed out the need to extend the EU eastwards. He criticised the present tactically "pretended" democracy of what is in fact the authoritarian regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka, who wants to be elected president for the fifth time.
"Less than a month ago, all political prisoners were released in Belarus. The regime retreated, took half a step back as a result of the pressure of the European Community and protests in the country - took half a step back. However, it is just a tactical concession, a tactical victory. In a month, the next presidential election will be held in Belarus and Lukashenka will take part in them for the fifth time. We have no doubt that the elections will be rigged. Lukashenka builds a facade of democracy, and this can not be trusted," said Mr. Bialiatski.
The human rights activist also remained about the external threats for Belarus: “In the recent years we have been observing the developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Crimea has been occupied and there is practically a war in Donbass. Russia continues pumping its imperialism, that's why there arises the question who will be the next?”
This year, the conference is attended by over 150 delegates from dozens of countries. Among the key issues under discussion are the possibility of learning democracy in the regions that do not have democratic traditions; issues related to refugees and and ISIS, and the role of economic literacy in democratic reforms.
The conference Forum 2000 was initiated by Vaclav Havel together with a writer and human rights activist Elie Wiesel and the Japanese philanthropist Yohei Sasakawa, who wanted to create a space where world-known people could meet to analyze the challenges of the new millennium. More than 700 people, including the Tibetan Dalai Lama, Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi and former US President Bill Clinton attended the conference in the past 18 years. As stated at the opening ceremony by Mr. Klepal, the number of invited delegates who are unable to come to Prague for political reasons, is growing every year.