Video: Interview with Ales Bialiatski’s wife and colleagues

In connection with Belarus’ Independence Day on 3 July, President Alexander Lukashenko granted amnesty to a number of selected prisoners. The amnesty did not however include Ales Bialiatski, chairman of the human rights organisation Viasna, and the country’s other political prisoners.

The Belarusian parliament adopted an Amnesty law on 27 June, which was heavily criticized by human rights organisations for being politicised. Those who organise, prepare, or actively participate in activities that “disturb public order” cannot get amnesty. Neither can those who have been convicted for libel or defamation of the President.

In August, Ales Bialiatski been detained for a year and the pressure on him increases in prison. Ales has recently received three reprimands. His food rations and visiting hours are limited and the financial compensation for work performed in prison has been lowered. Civil Rights Defenders’ interpretation of these actions is that the authorities want to show that Ales Bialiatski is not a model prisoner, in order to exclude the possibility of amnesty.

– Increased pressure on him is obviously stressful. People who have been in contact with Ales says he keeps up his spirits, but there are signs that his health has deteriorated, says Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director at Civil Rights Defenders.

In a short video report from Belarus, Ales’ wife and colleagues speak about their concern for how he and the other political prisoners are being treated. According to Valiantsin Stefanovich, vice president of Viasna, there are reports about prisoners in the KGB prisons being subjected to torture and degrading treatment. Parts of the interviews have recently been shown on TV4 News in Sweden.

Background
In August 2011 Ales Bialiatski was arrested, suspected of serious tax evasion, after Lithuania and Poland disclosed information about Belarusian individuals’ bank accounts, at the request of the Belarusian authorities. Ales Bialiatski is the head of Belarus’ leading human rights organisation Viasna. As Viasna has not been able to register and operate legally in Belarus, the organisation has had to open private bank accounts abroad.

The trial of Ales Bialiatski began on 2 November, despite international protests and demands for his release. He was sentenced to four and a half years in prison and confiscation of property. The process against Ales was directly linked to his human rights work and the judgment was a warning to the whole Belarusian civil society, of which Ales is a key figure.

Ales Bialiatski is one of a dozen political prisoners that are still behind bars in Belarus. They will not come in question for amnesty, according to statements by Lukashenko.

Civil Rights Defenders protested, in an open letter to President Lukashenko on 21 June, against the treatment of the country’s political prisoners, and demanded the immediate release of Ales Bialiatski.

Categories: News and Videos.
Tags: Ales Bialiatski and Human Rights Defender.
Regions: Belarus.