Ales Bialiatski turned 61 on 25 September. The founder of the Belarusian Viasna Human Rights Centre and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 2022 had to spend his birthday in prison. On this occasion, we commemorated his fate and that of all other political prisoners in Belarus.
On Monday, Libereco, Amnesty International Germany and the Belarusian Community RAZAM e.V. took a stand against human rights violations in Belarus at the Brandenburg Gate in the centre of Berlin and showed their solidarity with all Belarusians affected by repression. Like four of his Viasna colleagues, Ales Bialiatski is imprisoned in Belarus solely because of his legitimate human rights work.
At the demonstration, Bundestag Members Johannes Schraps, Jürgen Hardt, Helge Limburg, Stefan Gelbhaar, and Anton Hofreiter condemned the actions of the regime of dictator Alexander Lukashenko against Ales Bialiatski and sharply criticised the countless massive violations of freedom of expression, association and assembly in the EU neighbouring state. As part of Libereco’s #WeStandBYyou solidarity campaign, each of the politicians had previously “adopted” one of the now nearly 1,500 political prisoners.
Torture and other ill-treatment still common practice
Since the violent crackdown on the 2020 mass protests, persecution of political opponents has sharply increased in Belarus. Ales Bialiatski has been imprisoned since 14 July 2021. On 3 March 2023 and after trumped-up charges, he has been sentenced to ten years imprisonment and a heavy fine.
In Belarusian prisons, torture and other ill-treatment are still common practice and go unpunished. The judicial system is abused to suppress critical voices and the authorities arbitrarily make “extremism” and “terrorism” accusations against organisations in order to stop their activities and legitimise criminal prosecution. At the end of August for example, the Belarusian Ministry of the Interior classified Viasna as an “extremist association”.