Ales Bialiatski: It is Very Important for Our People to Know That We Are Not Alone

2006 2006-03-10T10:00:00+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Ales Bialiatski: It is Very Important for Our People to Know That We Are Not Alone

During the last years the situation of human rights in Belarus has been deteriorating. It is witnessed by the Chronicle-reviews of Human Rights Violations in Belarus that are prepared by HRC Viasna, the statements of such international human rights organizations and associations as OSCE, the Council of Europe, pressurization of mass media, NGOs, public and political activists and by the international recognition of the activity of the Belarusian human rights activists, who struggle for democracy in the conditions of totalitarian state.

On 1 March the human rights activist Ales Bialiatski received in Prague a honorary prize Homo Homini from the humanitarian and human rights organization People in Need. This prize is the most popular one in Czech. On return home Mr Bialiatski gave us an interview that is proposed to your attention.

Corr.: -- To your mind, is the fact that you have already received two prizes this month an evidence of the catastrophic situation of human rights in our country or does it manifest the growing attention of the international community to Belarus?

A.B.: -- The activists of HRC Viasna have really received two prizes this month. The second one was awarded by the well-known humanitarian organization of Czech People in Need that deals with defense of human rights and humanitarian projects. We were awarded this prize for our work during 2005. It seems to me, there are two reasons for it: firstly, the civil society of Czech showed their appreciation of the effectiveness of the Belarusian human rights activists and, secondly, it is connected to these hard times, when the Belarusian authorities increase repressions against public and political activists. This is the way the Czech human rights activists, politicians and public activists turn the attention of the universal community, the Belarusian authorities and citizens of our country to the fact that human rights are systematically and rudely violated in Belarus. I think it is very important for our people to know that were are not alone.

Corr.: -- What are you impressions of the award ceremony?

A.B.: -- It took place at the cultural center of Vaclav Gavel Fund that is situated in a Catholic Church that is being currently restored. About a thousand persons attended the event. There were politicians, journalists and students - all those who are interested in the human rights. I also had an opportunity to speak to them. In my speech I said that whereas some people tried to restore churches, others were restoring totalitarian regimes. Our people deserves more than what he has nowadays. The main thing we are struggling for is freedom, freedom for our people. The self-esteem of Belarusians is growing and we are convinced that sooner or later our people will become able to take their fate in their hands and won’t stand the violations of human rights that are admitted by the present authorities.

Corr.: -- Who did you meet with during your visit to Czech?

A.B.: -- We met with Czech human rights activists and politicians. In particular, there were meetings with the chair of the Czech Parliament, Mr Sobotky, and other MPs. We also had meetings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, speeches at numerous channels of Czech TV and radio. In general, people paid a great interest to the events in Belarus. I’d also like to mention that the prize was passed to me b the former president of Czech, well-known writer and prisoner conscience (who spent five years in jail during the soviet rule) Vaclav Gavel. I had a 30-minute meeting with him. We talked about Belarus. He shared his experience. For me this meeting was the most important event, because I have a great respect to Vaclav Gavel. He is a moral authority for me, and I used the wonderful opportunity to take a closer look and have quite a long talk with him.

Corr.: -- You were in Czech when one of the candidates to the presidential position and a number of journalists were beaten in Belarus. How did the Czech public circles react to these events?

A.B.: -- All main Czech mass media immediately gave publicity to these facts. Czech showed a very negative reaction to these events, treating them as evidence of the abnormal situation of human rights in our country.

Corr.: -- Earlier Human Rights Center Viasna was called Viasna-96 and will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. Does this anniversary sum up your activity for the last decade?

A.B.: -- Yes, it does. We have been deprived of registration several times, but now I’d like to say the organization obtained registration in Czech Republic.

Corr: -- How do you intend to continue your work?

A.B.: -- Our main task has been, is and will be support to the people who are persecuted by the Belarusian authorities for public and political activity. We will try to take all our efforts to implement this task.