Human Rights Defender Risks Up to Seven Years in Prison

Ales Bialiatski, chair of the human rights organisation Viasna, was arrested on August 4th by the Belarus Department of Financial Investigations, suspected of gross tax evasion. According to Belarusian law he risks up to seven years imprisonment.

Civil Rights Defenders considers his arrest to be nothing but a pretext.

“The arrest is a way to silence critical voices. Ales Bialiatski is the head of the most prominent human rights organisation in Belarus and has been a thorn in the side to the regime for a long period. Belarusian authorities use this as a way to frighten the human rights movement in the country,” said Marie Månson, Programme Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Civil Rights Defenders.

On Viasna’s website the arrest of Bialiatski is described as retaliation for his long-term fight for human rights. Viasna was established in 1998. In 2003 the organisation was banned by the Belarus authorities and has since then been forced to work without registration. In 2006 Ales Bialiatski received the Per Anger prize by the Swedish government for his brave and selfless work for human rights.