2010 01/04

Paris-Geneva, March 23. 2010. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), expresses its deep concern about the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Ales Bialiatski, FIDH Vice-President, along with three other members of the Human Rights Center Viasna.

Today, Mr. Ales Bialiatski, FIDH Vice-President and President of the Human Rights Center Viasna, was arrested along with three other members of the Human Rights Center Viasna, Mr. Valiantsin Stefanovich, Ms. Iryna Toustsik and Mr. Siarhei Sys, while staging a picket in front of the Presidential Administration Building in Minsk. They were protesting against the recent execution of Messrs. Andrei Zhuk and Vasil Yuzepchuk, while the UN Committee on Human Rights had previously addressed the Government of the Republic of Belarus with the request not to carry out execution of Mr. Yuzepchuk before his appeal at the Committee will be processed.

Messrs. Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich, Siarhei Sys and Ms. Iryna Toustsik were taken to Leninski police department of Minsk and charged with violation of the Article 23-34 of the Civil Code (“violating of public event procedures”). While Mr. Siarhei Sys was released late in the evening, Mr. Bialiatski, Mr. Stefanovich, and Ms. Toustsik were to remain detained at the Leninski police department of Minsk for the night.

The Observatory denounces the ongoing detention of Mr. Ales Bialiatski, Mr. Valiantsin Stefanovich and Ms. Iryna Toustsik, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities, in particular their peaceful protest against the death penalty. The Observatory therefore urges the Belarusian authorities to put an end to their ongoing detention as well as to guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrity.

The Observatory further calls upon the Belarusian authorities to put an end to all acts harassment, including at the judicial level, against them as well as against all human rights defenders in Belarus, and to conform in all circumstances with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Belarus.

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