The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Christoph Strässer, issued the following statement today (29 April) on the 1000th day since the imprisonment of human rights activist Ales Bialiatski:
Today is a sombre anniversary for human rights in Belarus. Ales Bialiatski, winner of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize, has been unjustly imprisoned for almost three years. Ales Bialiatski was convicted because of his work to see human rights respected. I urgently call upon the Belarusian Government to release him and all other political prisoners immediately.
The repression of non‑governmental organisations, the opposition and independent media in Belarus must cease. The Government must commit itself wholeheartedly to upholding human rights and also respect them in practice! This applies particularly to the abolition of the death penalty.
The well‑known human rights activist Ales Bialiatski is Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and President of Viasna, the leading human rights organisation in Minsk. During the repression following the presidential elections in December 2010, Viasna notably provided support for political prisoners and their families.
In November 2011 Ales Bialiatski was sentenced to four and a half years’ imprisonment. His property was also confiscated.
Fundamental political freedoms in Belarus are restricted considerably. Human rights defenders are under pressure from the state. The authorities place obstacles in the way of non‑governmental organisations and independent media with the aim of making it very hard for civil society representatives critical of the regime to do their work. Belarus is the only European country that hands down and carries out death sentences.