FIDH President congratulates Viasna on 20th anniversary
On behalf of the International Federation for Human Rights, I want to address my best wishes to the employees of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" on the occasion of the glorious twentieth anniversary of your organization!
Today, you have something to celebrate and you have something to be proud of. Over the twenty years, Viasna has transformed itself from a volunteer movement in a professional human rights organization, strong and respected one. On this long path, it has never lost its principles and never wavered the selfless dedication of its members to the cause of human rights.
We know that this path was difficult, but most importantly, much more importantly than the multiple awards that the Viasna staff can rightly be proud of, is the recognition of hundreds of Belarusian citizens to whom you have provided assistance and support. Our Federation is proud to be present with you for more than half of your existence. Viasna became a member of the FIDH in 2004, less than a year after its formal liquidation by the authorities. Over the years that followed, we have fought together for human rights in Belarus, organized seminars, forums (including the last forum on human rights held in Belarus in 2004) and international investigative missions, and fought for the liberation of political prisoners at all levels available.
We are proud that the President of Viasna, Ales Bialiatski, became the first vice-president from Eastern Europe in the history of the FIDH. Ales has done a lot, not only for Belarus but also for the development of the Federation’s activities. The mobilization of all members of the Federation - Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America - at the time of his arrest and throughout his imprisonment showed the high esteem that the work of Viasna received at the international level.
In these difficult years, the three years during which the founder and President of the organization languished in prison, Viasna demonstrated its endless resilience – in an extremely tough context, one of the toughest in the history of contemporary Belarus, marked by multiple repressions – to fight tirelessly both for human rights and for their friend and leader. The organization came out of this ordeal with its head high, having neither reduced the pace of its work or given up its positions, and all members of this wonderful crew remained at their posts. This is primarily due to their efforts that Viasna was able to continue its activities and Ales was released.
On behalf of the Federation’s International Bureau, the International Secretariat and all FIDH members in more than one hundred countries around the world, I congratulate you and wish all you strength, success and good luck in your necessary and courageous activities, recognized both nationally and internationally, for the good of your country!
With respectful and friendly greetings,