The organizing committee of the Charter’97 has nominated candidates of the National Human Rights Award in 2007. This award was founded by the Charter’97 civil initiative in 1998. Ivonna Matsukevich is to be awarded in the category “For defense of human rights and Christian values”. She is the chairperson of the committee of St. Joseph’s parish in Minsk. The creative association “Pahonya” is awarded in the category “For defense of human rights and freedom of artistic creativity”. The winner in the category “For personal courage in human rights protection” is a human rights activist and wife of a political prisoner, Tastyana Klimava-Leanovich.
Ivonna Matsukevich is the chairperson of the parish committee of St. Joseph’s parish in Minsk. For 2 years Belarusians have been witnessing the spiritual deed. Every day after the evening service, and after the morning service on Sunday, Ivonna Matsukevich goes to St. Joseph’s Church. She prays for return of the church to the Catholic church. Sometimes dozens and hundreds of people come with her, and sometimes just a few brothers and sisters. There are days when she comes alone, and her prayers in defense of Christian values and believers’ rights do not stop even for a day.
The creative association “Pahonya”
It was established in 1990 with the aim to develop the national art, enrichment and support of national traditions in the art. Prominent artists and art workers are its members. Exhibitions organized by “Pahonya” have always been a great event in the artistic and public life of Belarus. For all these years “Pahonya” members remain faithful to the principles of freedom of artistic creativity and freedom of expression.
Tatsyana Klimava is a well-known lawyer, a human rights activist and a wife of the political prisoner Andrei Klimau. She married a successful businessman, a millionaire, a deputy of the parliament, and she has turned into a wife of the political prisoner. A deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the 13th convocation, during Lukashenka’s rule Andrei Klimau has been sentenced to imprisonment three times. First time Andrei Klimau spent 4 years in prison, in fact for a campaign for Lukashenka’s impeachments. After that he worked in the corrective labour facility in Homel region for staging a mass protest rally on Freedom Day. This year the politician has been sentenced for 2 years of imprisonment in a maximum security facility for publishing an article in the web. All through these years Tatsyana have been doing her best for his release, and raised children alone.
In previous years among the prize-winners of the National Human Rights Award were defenders of the tent camp on October Square in March 2006, political prisoners Alyaksnadr Kazulin, Zmitser Dashkevich, Artur Finkevich, Paval Sevyarynets, Mikalay Statkevich, Mikola Autukhovich, an activist of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union Alena Zakhodzhaya, Christians who participated in the hunger strike for return of New Life church building, a human rights activist Valery Shchukin, wives of the abducted opposition leaders and a journalist, Iryna Krasouskaya, Svyatlana Zavadskaya, Zinaida Hanchar; a People’s Artist Zinaida Bandarenka, an opposition activist Uladzimir Pleschanka, the Kurapaty defenders, rock bands “N.R.M.” and “Novae Neba”, a film director Viktar Dashuk, journalists Paval Mazhejka, Mikola Markevich, Viktar Ivashkevich, Lubou Luniova, Yuras` Karmanau, Maryna Koktysh, Henadz Barbarych and other prominent public and cultural figures, politicians and journalists.