Ales Bialiatski

Belarusian writer and human rights advocate

Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Ales Bialiatski is a Belarusian writer and human rights advocate. He is a member of the Belarusian Writers Union and helped found the Tutejshyja Association of Young Writers. Bialiatski is the chairman of Viasna Human Rights Centre (VHRC), which he founded in 2006, and vice president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). Since 2003 Belarusian authorities have refused to officially register VHRC, which provides financial and legal assistance to political prisoners and their families. Since the organization is barred from opening a bank account in its name in Belarus, VHRC was forced to keep bank accounts in other countries to continue its work. Bialiatski was arrested in August 2011 on charges of tax evasion and sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Amnesty International declared Bialiatski a prisoner of conscience, and numerous organizations and governing bodies called for his immediate and unconditional release. During his imprisonment, he published a book titled “Enlightened by Belarus” (2013), which was temporarily banned after authorities claimed that the book “damages the image the Republic of Belarus.” Bialiatski was released 20 months ahead of schedule on June 21, 2014, and is still waiting for Belarus to implement the UNHRC’s recommended compensatory actions including monetary compensation, annulment of criminal charges and reconsideration of VHRC’s application for registration. He is the recipient of the Homo Homini Award and the Per Anger Prize for his advocacy efforts. Bialiatski was the first recipient of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize in 2013, which was awarded to him while in prison. Ales Bialiatski continues to work with political prisoners and publishes essays and articles on media and free speech, civil society, and human rights.

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