UN Urges Belarus to Release Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ales Bialiatski
By RMN News Service
The UN Human Rights Office has urged the Belarusian regime to release Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski who faces up to 12 years in jail.
Human rights activist Bialiatski, who is the founder of Viasna Human Rights Center, was arrested in July 2021 on tax evasion charges, which are believed to be politically motivated. Bialiatski and two other activists have been detained in harsh conditions in a Minsk prison.
“We are gravely concerned by the trial of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski which started in Belarus on January 5. We have serious concerns about the conduct of their trial,” said Jeremy Laurence, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
These human rights activists are among thousands detained after a violent crackdown on anti-government protests by the Belarusian regime in 2020.
“We call for the charges against them to be dropped, and their immediate release from detention,” the UN spokesperson added in the statement issued on January 6, 2023.
A slew of human rights groups had launched the #FreeViasna campaign on September 17, 2021, the first anniversary of the authorities’ reprisals against Viasna, which has documented human rights violations in Belarus for nearly 25 years.
The attacks on Viasna are part of a broader crackdown on civil society. The Belarus government has prosecuted and jailed critics and peaceful protesters, forcing many to flee the country.
President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime in Belarus has shut down dozens of independent organizations and media outlets, and pressured and disbarred lawyers who dare take up politically motivated cases.
Thousands 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 Lukashenko to retain power.
Lukashenko has been the first and the only President of Belarus since the establishment of the office in 1994, making him the longest-sitting European president.
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