Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Sentenced to 10 Years in Belarus Prison
On Friday, a court in Belarus sentenced Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski to 10 years in prison for allegedly trying to overthrow the government. Bialiatski, the founder of the unregistered Viasna Human Rights Center and a veteran of the human rights movement in Belarus since the 1980s, was found guilty of criminal charges including smuggling and financing protests.
Bialiatski was arrested during the 2020 Belarusian presidential election, which was followed by mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko. Hundreds of thousands of protesters demanded that he step down, but he instead quashed the protests with the help of Russia, having thousands arrested and forcing opposition leaders into exile. Viasna said Bialiatski was falsely charged with “smuggling large sums of money and financing group activities that grossly violated public order.
The court also sentenced Bialiatski's colleagues Valiantsin Stefanovich, deputy chair of Viasna and vice-president of the International Federation of Human Rights, and Viasna’s lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich to nine and seven years in prison respectively. An activist was given a sentence in their absence. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock slammed the charges and trial against the three as a farce, adding they were being judged simply because of their years-long fight for the rights, dignity and freedom of people in Belarus.
In October 2022, Bialiatski was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Russian and Ukrainian human rights organizations. Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said Bialiatski and other activists sentenced in the same trial had been unfairly convicted, calling the verdict “appalling.
The case has been widely condemned by Western human rights groups and the international community, who are calling for the release of Bialiatski, Stefanovich and Labkovich. Marie Struthers, Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia has urged the world to “do everything to fight against this shameful injustice and free them.
0. “Belarusian Nobel Laureate Ales Bialiatski Gets 10 Years in Prison” Bloomberg, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-03/belarusian-nobel-laureate-ales-bialiatski-gets-10-years-in-prison
1. “Belarusian court sentences Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski to 10 years in prison” ANI News, 4 Mar. 2023, https://www.aninews.in/news/world/europe/belarusian-court-sentences-nobel-peace-prize-laureate-ales-bialiatski-to-10-years-in-prison20230304063946
2. “Belarus Nobel Peace Prize laureate sentenced to 10 years in prison” NPR, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/03/03/1160861721/belarus-nobel-peace-prize-laureate-sentenced-to-10-years-in-prison
3. “Belarus sentences Nobel Peace laureate to 10 years in prison” The Boston Globe, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/03/03/world/belarus-sentences-nobel-peace-laureate-10-years-prison
4. “Belarus: Sentencing Of Human Rights Defenders A ‘Blatant Retaliation' For Their Work – Amnesty International USA” Amnesty International USA, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.amnestyusa.org/press-releases/belarus-sentencing-of-human-rights-defenders/
5. “Belarus jails Nobel peace prize-winning dissident Ales Bialiatski” The Guardian, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/03/belarus-jails-nobel-peace-prize-winning-dissident-ales-bialiatski
6. “Ales Bialiatski: Nobel Prize-winning activist sentenced to 10 years in jail” BBC, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-64833756
7. “Nobel laureate Ales Bialiatski sentenced to 10 years in prison by Belarusian court” CNN, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/03/europe/ales-bialiatski-sentenced-intl/index.html