A Belarusian Prisoner For A Noble Cause
Byalyatski has received many international awards for his tireless defense of human rights in his home country of Belarus. Most of his work as an activist has focused on defending the human rights of Belarusians, providing legal defense to political prisoners and their families, and supporting human rights initiatives in the country.
In 2006, former Czech President Vaclav Havel awarded him the Homo Homini Award. That year Byalyatski also received the Swedish Per Anger Prize and the Norwegian Andrey Sakharov Freedom Award. The Italian city of Genoa made him an honorary citizen in 2010, and in 2011, he received the Freedom Award from the American Atlantic Council. Byalyatski has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice, in 2006 and 2007, and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012.
Alas, on September 25, Byalyatski marked his 49th birthday in prison. He has already spent nearly two months in jail as he awaits trial and a probable guilty verdict under the Belarusian justice system. The charges against him -- large-scale tax evasion for funds received through foreign banks accounts -- may not at first appear to be politically motivated, but there should be no denying that his arrest and prosecution are entirely political in nature.
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