18 January 2018, Thursday, 13:03

Miklós Haraszti welcomes release of Bialiatski

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, welcomes the release of human rights defender Ales Bialiatski.

He also called on the authorities to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally and rehabilitate them.

As charter97.org has learnt, Miklós Haraszti drew attention to other political prisoners held in Belarusian jails. “Like a number of other opponents and activists whose sentences appear to have been politically motivated, Bialiatski faced psychological and physical pressure while deprived of liberty and subjected to repeated arbitrary disciplinary punishments,” Miklós Haraszti said.

He recalled that other political prisoners, including presidential candidate Mikalai Statkevich, who was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment on charges of organising mass riots, still remain in jails.

Ales Bialiatski was amnestied on June 21 after spending 1,050 days in prison. The leader of Viasna human rights centre, which was closed by the Belarusian authorities, was arrested on August 4, 2011, and sentenced to 4.5 years in a medium security correctional facility and confiscation of property on charges of tax evasion on a large scale.

He faced criminal prosecution for having foreign bank accounts, which he used for his human rights activity. He was unable to open accounts in Belarus, because Viasna human rights centre works illegally after the authorities refused to register it several times. The court ignored the fact that the alleged damage to the state was compensated by donations.

The human rights defender, who was recognised a prisoner of conscience by international organisations, served his term in correctional facility No. 2 in Babruisk (the Mahilou region). Bialiatski was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, 2013 and 2014.