Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Statement of the EaP Civil Society Forum on the sentencing of Ales Bialiatski in Belarus

Tagged under Steering Committee

On 24 November 2011, apolitically motivated verdict was pronounced in Belarus against a prominent human rightsdefender, leader of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Ales Bialiatski. He was foundguilty of alleged "tax evasion on a large scale", andsentenced to four-and-a-half years of imprisonment in a high-security penalcolony with confiscation of property.

Thus,a prominent human rights defender joined the list of political prisoners in Belarus.

AlesBialiatski is internationally recognised as an impartial and outspokenhuman-rights defender, who has persistently and conscientiously protected theideals of human rights and democracy under authoritarian circumstances.

The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum expresses resolute protest at AlesBialiatski's conviction and reiterates its position on his persecution andarrest, voiced by over50 participants of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in astatement adopted on 29 August 2011.

We would like to state the following:

  • The prosecution and conviction of Ales Bialiatski on tax charges cannot disguisethe true reasons for the harassment of the human-rights defender. We areconvinced that the tax charges, related to the disclosure of his personal bankaccounts in EU countries, are nothing but a pretext for isolating the keyfigure in the country's human rights movement. These accounts were used solelyfor the funding of human rights activities in Belarus.
  • We emphasize that the trial failed to produce even indirect evidence of AlesBialiatski's guilt, for which he was unjustly punished.
  • We believe that the verdict in the case of Ales Bialiatski is the result of theBelarusian authorities' repressive policy over many years against human rightsgroups and defenders for their criticism of the country's human rights record.

We call upon the European Union institutions and member states to take measurestoward the release of Ales Bialiatski and other political prisoners, as thereshould be no political prisoners in the countries that have signed the EasternPartnership Declaration.

We demand the immediate andunconditional release and full rehabilitation of Ales Bialiatski. 

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