Bialiatski Conviction Latest Human Rights Abuse in Belarus | Page 71 | Freedom House

Bialiatski Conviction Latest Human Rights Abuse in Belarus

Washington

Freedom House condemns yesterday’s sentencing of Ales Bialiatski, prominent Belarusian human rights defender and head of the Human Rights Center “Viasna,” to 4.5 years in prison on politically motivated charges and calls for his immediate release.
 
“This is yet the latest example of Aleksandr Lukashenka’s brutal crackdown on civil society,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House.  “It is undeniably a retaliatory measure for Bialiatski’s work promoting a more democratic future for Belarus.”
 
Bialiatski was convicted on charges of tax evasion. According to his sentence, he is to be held in a general security penal colony and all of his assets will be confiscated. He 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. 
 
“The Lukashenka regime has targeted Bialiatski because he is a respected human rights defender in Belarus, and imprisoning him is intended to send a signal to others who promote greater freedom or might challenge the regime,” continued Kramer. “Stronger economic sanctions by Europe and the U.S. are the only way to bring about the release of Bialatski and other political prisoners, including former presidential candidates Andrey Sannikau and Mikalay Statkevich.”
 
Bialiatski’s conviction comes just shy of a year after Belarus’s fraudulent elections, when the regime exacted a harsh crackdown on citizens peacefully protesting the elections results.  The situation in Belarus continues to be perilous for human rights activists and political opposition and will remain so until the people of Belarus are freed from the Lukashenka dictatorship and the country can take its rightful place as a democratic European nation.
 
Identified by Freedom House as one of the world’s worst human rights abusers, Belarus is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House’s annual global assessment of political rights and civil liberties and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.
 
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