“All human beings are born equal”. Minsk marks Human Rights Day

2019 2019-12-11T13:28:49+0300 2019-12-11T13:30:46+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/maliunki_batlera.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Drawings by George Butler. Photo: spring96.org

Drawings by George Butler. Photo: spring96.org

The Human Rights Center “Viasna” marked December 10, Human Rights Day by opening an exhibition devoted to the topic of the death penalty.

“The death penalty is one of the many human rights issues Belarus is yet to address,” Andrei Paluda, coordinator of the national campaign “Human Rights Defenders Against the Death Penalty in Belarus”, said at the opening event. “Three death sentences have been handed down this year, and two of them were enforced”.

The exhibition consists of two parts: the photo project “Capital Punishment” by Belarusian photojournalist Siarhei Balai and “Europe’s Last Executioner”, a series of drawings by the British artist George Butler.

Butler has done several projects after visiting countries with poor human rights records. He traveled to Syria, Iran, and in 2018 he visited Belarus. With the support of Amnesty International and the British Embassy, the artist was able to meet with the mothers of death row prisoners.

British Ambassador to Belarus Jacqueline Perkins. Photo: spring96.org
British Ambassador to Belarus Jacqueline Perkins. Photo: spring96.org

“All human beings are born equal,” Jacqueline Perkins, British Ambassador to Belarus, said at the event. “Unfortunately, the world still has to defend the importance of human rights. I believe that Belarus will join the 70% of the countries that have already abolished the death penalty.”

The second part of the exhibition is the photo project “Capital Punishment”. It focuses on the sufferings of the families, most of whom are women.

Siarhei Balai's photo project “Capital Punishment”
Siarhei Balai's photo project “Capital Punishment”

One of them is Aliaksandra Yakavitskaya, daughter of Henadz Yakavitski who was executed in November 2016.

Aliaksandra Yakavitskaya, daughter of Henadz Yakavitski who was executed in November 2016
Aliaksandra Yakavitskaya, daughter of Henadz Yakavitski who was executed in November 2016

“The sentence relied on the fact my father had previously been convicted,” she said. “If not him, then who?” the judge said. Our meetings were ugly. He was escorted by five people who were listening to our conversations and telling unethical jokes... I want to emphasize that you should not blame the families [of the executed people] if you do not know what they had to live through.”

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