The criminal case against Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatsky – Press conference

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Human Rights Centre “Viasna”

International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)

Invite you to a press conference

TUESDAY 13th of SEPTEMBER at 10.30


International Press Centre
Rue de la Loi 155 – Bloc C
1040 Brussels

Valentin Stefanovic, “Viasna” Human Rights Centre Vice-Chairman, comes to Brussels to denounce the case of jailed Ales Bialiatsky, “Viasna” President and Vice-President of the FIDH.

with the participation of:

Valentin Stefanovic, Vice-Chairman of Human Rights Centre “Viasna”

Alexandra Koulaeva, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Desk Director, FIDH

Benoit van der Meerschen, President of La Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH)

Ales Bialiatski, FIDH Vice-President and President of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” in Belarus has been detained in Minsk since last August 4, 2011. After a lengthy preparation by the Belarusian authorities, Ales Bialiatski has been charged with “especially serious tax evasion”.

He was arrested on the basis of information conveyed by Polish and Lithuanian authorities regarding Mr. Bialiatski’s bank accounts in these countries. These accounts exist as the only means to transfer the foreign funding crucial to the human rights activities of “Viasna” in Belarus, as the organisation was liquidated by decision of justice in 2003.

Despite official declarations of regret from both Warsaw and Vilnius, the information transmitted by these two countries currently assuming the presidency of the EU and the OSCE respectively, can lead to the condemnation of Mr. Bialiatski to a seven-year prison sentence and to the confiscation of his property, meaning the premises of “Viasna” Human Rights Centre.

The sole aim of this manoeuvre by the Belarusian authorities is to stop “Viasna” from defending the victims of systematic and grave violations, and even from existing. More than 8 years after the organisation was officially banned, “Viasna” is still running through its 17 branches in the country, assisting legally and financially hundreds of Belarusian citizens. Their role became even more essential after the tragic presidential elections of December 19, 2010 when over 700 hundred demonstrators were arrested and condemned, including 7 of the 9 presidential candidates, and all dissident voices were silenced.

The press-conference organised by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) will be the occasion to present the full background around the case of this most prominent Belarusian human rights defender also known for his regional and international human rights missions and activities in his position of FIDH Vice-President. Currently jailed Ales Bialiatski was short-listed in 2007 for a Nobel Price.

It will be also an occasion to raise the question of EU member states’ cooperation with openly authoritarian regimes at the moment when the revolutions in the Arab world show once again that support for the civil societies and a clear and firm position towards such countries is the only way to ensure stability and peace in Europe.