Valiantsin Stefanovic on FIDH centenary: “Defenders' solidarity is a powerful force”
On October 23, the 41st session of the Congress of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) began in Paris. This year, the Federation is celebrating its 100th anniversary. During the opening of the 41st session, portraits of jailed Viasna members were displayed in the front row, and FIDH Eastern Europe and Central Asia Department Head Ilya Nuzov read Valiantsin Stefanovic’s letter that he wrote in prison.
Deputy chair of the Human Rights Center Viasna Valiantsin Stefanovic is FIDH vice-president for the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region. He was elected to this position at the FIDH International Congress held in Taiwan in 2019.
Ilya Nuzov voiced Stefanovic's address for the Federation dedicated to its centenary:
“I would like to congratulate the Federation on its birthday. This is a very important date for the global human rights movement. Bringing human rights organizations from all over the world under one roof, the Federation is unique. There are people from different cultures, nationalities, and races, but all of them share the ideas and values of human rights. And this vividly proves the universality of human rights.
In the face of the threat of nuclear catastrophe—for the first time since the end of the Cold War—the role of human rights defenders is especially important now. Back in the early 1990s, we thought that we would never have to face this threat again and that the world would live in harmony of diversity and peace. I would tell colleagues in Paris that a war was about to break out, a war in our troubled and conflict-ridden region, the former Soviet Union. Only a few believed me. People said it was impossible in our days. But I felt this threat of war under my skin. Now we must do our best to prevent this catastrophe.
I would like to thank my fellow brothers and sisters for their solidarity and support for all jailed human rights defenders around the world, and, of course, for me personally. Defenders' solidarity is a powerful force, and I believe that soon I will be able to join you to walk together on this difficult path toward world harmony, love, and peace.
Sincerely, your Valiantsin.”
At the opening, the President of France Emmanuel Macron and Paris deputy mayor also mentioned the Human Rights Center Viasna and its founder, political prisoner Ales Bialiatski, who, together with the Russian Human Rights Center Memorial and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties, won the Nobel Peace Prize this year.