Over 100 Nobel Laureates Demand the Release of Ales Bialiatski in Belarus
On May 21, PEN International, the literary and free expression organization, released a letter signed by 103 Nobel Laureates, expressing solidarity with writer, human rights defender, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and PEN member Ales Bialiatski.
They also condemned the Belarusian authorities’ brutal, relentless, and systematic crackdown on independent voices. In March, a court in Belarus ordered the imprisonment of Ales Bialiatski for 10 years.
It is alleged that Bialiatski, 60, financed protests and other crimes – the allegations which are believed to be frivolous and politically motivated. Bialiatski and three co-defendants were charged with supporting protests and smuggling money.
Bialiatski and his companions are not alone who are being harassed in Belarus. Hundreds of Belarusians have been arrested and jailed because they peacefully exercised their rights to freedom of expression and assembly in response to a fraudulent election in August 2020 that allowed President Alexander Lukashenko to retain power.
When the intensity of protests increased, Lukashenko’s regime shut down dozens of independent organizations and media outlets. Bialiatski is a co-founder of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” which is a non-governmental organization formed in 1996 during mass protest actions of the democratic opposition in Belarus.
In December 2022, according to Viasna, Bialiatski was barred from delivering his acceptance speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, where he was hailed as a beacon of light for the region, and beyond.
“We stand with Bialiatski and fellow members of Viasna – Marfa Rabkova, Valiantsin Stefanovich, Uladzimir Labkovich, Leanid Sudalenka, Andrei Chapiuk – and call for their convictions to be overturned as a matter of urgency, and their sentences to be annulled,” said the Nobel Laureates in their letter.
Viasna published the letter on May 23 along with the names of the signatories.
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