5 March 2021, Friday, 7:08
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

60th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. How Belarus marks December 10 (Photo)


On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Peaceful protest rallies are traditionally held on this day in Belarus.

The Declaration was written by members of the UN Commission on Human Rights established on February 16, 1946. The commission was headed by Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of US President Franklin Roosevelt, who was famous in the world as human rights defender.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood,” the first article of the Declaration reads.

This humanistic tone prevails in all 30 articles of the Declaration proclaiming and defending all main basic human rights.

This prominent document, called the Magna Carta of Mankind by Eleanor Roosevelt, was adopted was adopted by the General Assembly by a majority vote with only 10 states that abstained or voted against (resolution 217 of December 10, 1948).

The Soviet Union was among the latter. Only in 1976, when the USSR signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, created on the basis of the Declaration and became subject to compulsory implementation of all parties signed, the totalitarian state joined the countries that admit and undertake to observe human rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights became a basis for a number of documents of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki, 1975). In particular, the documents covering humanities: culture, education, information exchange, human contact, etc.

These documents and their administration control were the main activity of dissenting human rights Helsinki group in the Soviet Union. High and fair ideas were overcoming evil and lies, changing the world for the better.

According to the United Nations, the Declaration is translated into more than 300 languages, it has become the most popular text in the world history. Many state constitutions, first of all those that were adopted after the World War II and UN formation, contain ideas of the first article of the Declaration.

The United Nations announced December 10 the Human Rights Day in honour of Declaration proclamation. This day has been celebrated since 1950. A special resolution of the UN General Assembly notes the Universal declaration of Human Rights was a giant step forward mankind.

Human Rights Day in Belarus

Peaceful protest rallies are organized in Belarus on December 10. Belarusians go out to streets, hold meetings, pickets, rallies and urge the authorities to stop total violation of human rights and freedoms.

On December 10, 2002, the Human Rights Day was marked in Minsk by the mass action in commemoration of the victims of political repressions in Belarus. Over two hundred people came to October square of Minsk with the portraits of the missing politicians Viktar Hanchar and Yury Zakharanka, journalist Zmitser Zavadski, businessman Anatol Krasouski; convicted journalists Pavel Mazheiko and Mikola Markevich, deceased under mysterious circumstances 13th Supreme Council’s vice-speaker Henadz Karpenka, ZUBR activist Andrei Zaitsau, led to a suicide by the KGB agents.

Mother and son of kidnapped journalist Zmitser Zavadski

Andrei Sannikov, international coordinator of Charter’97 and Iryna Krasouskaya, widow of kidnapped businessman and public activist

Zinaida Hanchar and famous human rights activist Lyudmila Hraznova

On December 10, 2003, street action “We remember” in defense of human rights and memory of the missing people in Belarus was held in Minsk Wives of the missing people Svyatlana Zavadskaya and Iryna Krasouskaya were the initiators of the action. 500 people, holding candles and portraits of Yury Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar, Anatol Krasouski, and Zmitser Zavadski, formed a human chain along Francysk Skaryna Avenue. Though the rally was peaceful, militia officers in mufti arrested journalist Natallya Kalyada, activist of Charter’97, and tried to hinder holding the rally.

On December10, 2004, hundreds of people took to October square of Minsk with portraits of disappeared leaders of Belarusian opposition, a journalist, and died under mysterious circumstances 13th Supreme Council’s vice-speaker Henadz Karpenka and political prisoner Mikhail Marynich. Participants of the action were holding banners “Lukashenka! Where are Hanchar, Krasouski, Zavadski?!”, “Freedom to political prisoners!”, “Freedom to Marynich!”, “Today Ukraine, tomorrow Belarus!”, “You can steal the elections but you can’t steal the truth”. Many of them were with orange bands as a sign of solidarity with people of Ukraine, some people held EU flags. The rally continued near the KGB buildings. Participants attached portraits of disappeared oppositionists to doors of the KGB building.

Andrei Sannikov, international coordinator of Charter’97, and famous journalist Iryna Khalip

On December 10, 2005, famous human rights activists were spreading a report on human rights in Belarus by Adrian Severin, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Belarus, in the center of Minsk. The Belarusian authorities banned Mr Severin enter Belarus when he was preparing his report.

On December 10, 2006, a rally of solidarity with a political prisoner Alyaksandr Kazulin, who was on the the 52nd day of his hunger strike in Vitsebsk penal colony, was dispersed. More than 50 people gathered at October square of Minsk with portraits of the political prisoner, streamers, and posters. They chanted: "Freedom to Kazulin!" According to human rights watchdogs, about 30 protesters were detained. Among them were deputy head of the United Civil party Valyantsina Palyavikova, human rights activists Ales Byalyatski, Valyantsin Stefanovich, Ales Kalita. Riot militiamen hit people on their legs with truncheons.

Widow of kidnapped journalist Svyatlana Zavadskaya and her son Yura

Famous human rights activist Valyantsin Stefanovich knocked down to the ground by militiamen

On December 10, 2007, nearly thousand of entrepreneurs took to Minsk streets and marched from October square to Independence square to pass the authorities a statement demanding to give freedom private business and cancel discriminating orders of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.