2011 08/08

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation strongly condemns the arrest of Aliaksandr (Ales) Bialiatski, prominent Belarusian human rights defender, vice president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and head of the Minsk-based human rights centre Viasna.

“We have abundant reasons to believe that any alleged charges currently against Bialiatski are directly intended to silence his active support of human rights in Belarus”, said Will Lasky, CIVICUS Eurasia Coordinator. “CIVICUS believes his detention to be politically motivated and unlawful.” Bialiatski’s arrest is yet another instance in a pattern of harassment and intimidation towards civil society in Belarus.

Bialiatski was arrested by unidentified persons who also searched his apartment. His wife, who was reportedly in the apartment at the time of the search, was not afforded the chance to examine the papers of those who presented themselves as ‘finance police officers’. Earlier in the day Viasna was reportedly surrounded by members of the Belarus KGB.

“I have no doubt that these actions in respect to Ales Bialiatski and the Viasna Human Rights Centre are primarily connected with their serious and professional activities in human rights protection. The events taking place now greatly harm Belarus’s human rights movement”, said Andrey Yurov, Head of the International Observation Mission of the Committee on International Control over the situation with human rights in Belarus.

Bialiatski is widely regarded as one of the founders of the Belarusian civil movement, active in campaigning for freedom of expression, assembly, association and free elections. Since the 19 December 2010 elections, he has been the subject of a radio smear campaign and labelled as “public enemy number one”, among other forms of harassment.

Viasna Human Rights Centre, which is headed by Aliaksandr Bialiatski, was denied government registration in 2003 because of its election monitoring actions and has been under intense pressure since the December 2010 elections that were widely regarded as fraudulent. Human rights advocacy groups continue to face extreme difficulties in obtaining registration in Belarus, without which their activities are deemed illegal under the country’s Criminal Code (Article 193.1).

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation calls for Aliaksandr Bialiatski’s immediate and unconditional release and for the immediate cessation of government harassment of Belarusian civil society. “It is high time that the government of Belarus comply with their international obligations by guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms of all people in Belarus, or risk becoming a pariah regime”, said Lasky.

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society across the world

For more information contact:

Will Lasky
Eurasia Project Coordinator
Tel: +27 11 833 5959
E-mail: will.lasky@civicus.org


Adam Nord
Lobbying and Engagement Manager
Tel: +27 11 833 5959
E-mail: adam.nord@civicus.org

For more information on the arrest and on civil society in Belarus contact:
Representative of the International Observation Mission, Tel: + 375 33 636 0500
Tatiana Reviako, Viasna Human Rights Centre, Tel: +375 29 682 14 81
Marina Tsapok, coordinator of the Kyiv Information Centre of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus (Ukraine), Tel: +38 097 96 17 346
Viktoria Gromova, deputy head of the International Observation Mission (Russia), Tel: +7 915 582 27 45
For more about CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, refer to www.civicus.org.za.

To view other NGO press releases, visit: www.ngopulse.org/group/home-page/pressreleases.

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