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Pavel Sapelka: “Viasna continues to support those whose civil and political rights were violated”

2022 2022-11-30T17:10:23+0300 2022-11-30T17:10:23+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On November 28, 2022, it became known that the criminal case against Viasna leadership including Ales Bialiatski, one of the Nobel Peace Prize 2022 winners, had been sent to the court. While the date when the trial will start is still not set, debarred Belarusian lawyer and rights advocate Pavel Sapelka comments on the criminal case against his fellows.

Павел Сапелка. Фота:
Pavel Sapelka. Credit: Belsat TV

“Viasna defenders Valiantsin Stefanovic, Uladzimir Labkovich, and Nobel laureate Ales Bialiatski now share the fate of all Belarusian political prisoners. Three of them were arbitrarily imprisoned for more than a year in a case that fell apart. Zmitser Salauyou was arbitrarily detained, tortured, and forced to leave Belarus, and will now be tried in absentia without procedural guarantees. Now the four are facing another rash of charges, and this hastily made-up new case has already been sent to court.

Rather than attempting to discuss and challenge every thesis of the prosecutors, I will say one thing: the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are universally recognized rights, and Belarus has also pledged to respect them by signing and ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Viasna has been known for its firm commitment to an exclusively peaceful way of exercising rights and freedoms from the very beginning. Viasna has also supported and will continue to support by all legitimate means those who have suffered violations of their civil and political rights. While promoting and defending human rights as the highest value, we will continue to inform the international community and organizations of all the violations that have come to our attention.

Our hearts are now with our colleagues and friends. Together with our domestic, foreign, and international partners, we are convinced that our human rights fellows are not guilty. We will continue to maintain a high level of their support and hope that comprehensive pressure on the authorities will lead to the release of political prisoners”.

Ales Bialiatski, Uladzimir Labkovich, Valiantsin Stefanovic, and other Viasna members were searched by the Financial Investigations Department officers on July 14, 2021. Rights defenders were charged under part 2 of Article 243 of the Criminal Code and placed in custody. A year later these charges were dropped and replaced by harsher ones. 

On November 28, 2022, it became known that the criminal case against the Chairman of Viasna and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski, his deputy Valiantsin Stefanovic, and coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign Uladzimir Labkovich was sent to court by the Prosecutor General's Office. Zmitser Salauyou, another defendant in this case, has left Belarus and will be tried in absentia. They are charged with ‘smuggling (illegal movement of cash across the customs border of the Eurasian Economic Union on a large scale by an organized group)’ under Part 4 Article 228 of the Criminal Code and ‘financing of group actions grossly violating the public order’ under Part 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code. 


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