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Campaign for the release of Ales Bialiatski

28 May 2014

Who is Ales Bialiatski?

Human Rights activist Ales Bialiatski is Chairperson of Human Rights Centre “Viasna” and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights. On 4 August 2011 he was detained by police representatives of the Department of Financial Investigations an on 24 November, he was sentenced to  four and a half years imprisonment  on charges of “concealment of income on a large scale” (article 243.2 of the Belarusian Criminal Code).

Ales Bialiatski is widely considered a prisoner of conscience, sentenced on politically motivated tax charges and targeted because of his legitimate human rights work. Therefore we campaign for the immediate and unconditional release of Ales.

Bigger picture

On June 10 2014, the OSCE released Guidelines for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

Still, unfortunately, Ales’ case is not unique in many OSCE participating states. Human rights defenders and activists are threatened, hindered and  intimidated in their work and their personal lives because of their activities and goals. Restricting legislation, for example Russia’s Foreign Agent law and the Belarusian article 193-1 create a world in which civil activists are not safe. In this crackdown on civil society, many activists have already been imprisoned on politically motivated and often fabricated charges.

Ales Bialiatski is a representative of  these people and his release alone is not enough.  Many others should be released immediately and unconditionally as well, and freedom of operation for civil society, including for people critical towards the government, should be restored.

What you can do

Please view the following pages for more information about and campaigning possibilities on behalf of Ales Bialiatski and other justly imprisoned human rights defenders:

  •  A petition demanding Ales Bialiatski’s release, drawn up by Amnesty International Netherlands and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee can be found here.
  • The international human rights organization FIDH, of which Ales is a vice president, is running a special page found here.
  • Human Rights Centre “Viasna”, of which Ales is chairperson, is also running a special page.

Also, you can get involved by distributing your own Ales Behind Bars images. You can find the the template and the instructions here.

Other organisations

For more information on prisoners of conscience, for example Igor Kharchenko, and the state of civil society in former Soviet states, you can check the websites of the following organisations: