Ales Bialiatski: American politicians and activist interested in Belarus
Head of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Ales Bialiatski has returned from a working visit to Washington, where he met with members of Congress, senators, officials of the State Department and non-governmental organizations based in the U.S.
The visit was organized by the international human rights organization Freedom House.
All the meetings during the visit, which lasted from 16 to 21 November, dealt mainly with the issues of human rights in the post-election period in Belarus.
“Everyone was interested in the new situation that has evolved after the election. The participants asked about the reaction of the Belarusian human rights activists and their assessment of the situation in the context of the recent release of political prisoners and the suspension of sanctions against the Belarusian authorities and a number of Belarusian enterprises. U.S. politicians also asked how they could help the development of democracy in Belarus and how relevant the Act on Democracy in Belarus is in reality.
My position was as follows: the sanctions have been suspended for six months, and it is necessary to ensure that the Belarusian authorities make clear positive steps towards the expansion of democratic rights and freedoms in Belarus.
Of the seven points listed in the Act on Democracy, the Belarusian authorities have fulfilled only the first one – they released political prisoners. The other six remain topical,” said the human rights defender.
Viasna leader also met with Congressman Christopher Smith, the author of the Democracy Act, which was passed in 2004. The Helsinki Commission, led by Smith, is engaged in the issues of human rights and democracy in various countries.