Ales Bialiatski / Viasna (2020 Laureate)

Country: Belarus
Threats: Death threats, arbitrary arrest and detention, physical violence

Ales Bialiatski is a Belarusian human rights activist who has for decades campaigned for democracy and freedom in what many call “Europe’s last dictatorship.” Since the 1980s, he has been leading a non-violent and nonpartisan campaign to ensure that democratic freedoms are established in Belarus. In 1996, he founded the Human Rights Center “Viasna” to contribute to the development of civil society based on the respect for human rights, and to provide support for political prisoners. Because of his human rights work, Bialiatski has been arrested over 25 times and imprisoned on trumped-up charges. The government frequently targets Viasna and its members. Reprisals have been on the rise since pro-democracy protests broke out against the 2020 fraudulent presidential elections. During these demonstrations, Viasna has been defending the rights of peaceful protesters and documenting widespread human rights abuses.

  • October 28, 2003: The Supreme Court of Belarus ordered Viasna’s dissolution on charges of breaching electoral law for its participation in observing the 2001 presidential election. The court claimed that Viasna did not comply with the established procedures.
  • 2006: UN Human Rights Committee decided that the dissolution of Viasna was illegal and recommended the authorities to re-register it, a decision that was ignored by the authorities despite multiple attempts to get the organization registered again.
  • December 20, 2010: Viasna offices were raided and searched by the police. All computers were confiscated, and ten members were arrested and detained for a few hours.
  • January 17, 2011: New searches took place at Viasna’s office as well as at the home and cottage of Ales Bialiatski.
  • February 14, 2011: Ales Bialiatski received an official warning from the general prosecutor of him being active in an unregistered organization.
  • August 7, 2011: Bialiatski was arrested on unfounded tax evasion charges.
  • January 24, 2012: He was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.
  • May 1, 2012: Bialiatski was fined over 140 million Belarusian rubles due to alleged payment of arrears.
  • November 26, 2012: Viasna’s office was confiscated.
  • May 16, 2013: Authorities suspended Bialiatski’s right to receive food from visitors, including his wife.
  • June 21, 2014: Bialiatski was granted amnesty and released from prison.
  • March 25, 2017: Authorities raided Viasna’s offices and detained 58 human rights defenders who were attending a training.
  • 2018: Human rights defenders working for Viasna were once again arrested during a demonstration in Minsk to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Belarus’ proclamation of independence. The case was terminated after the statute of limitations expired.
  • 2020: Following the violent repression in the aftermath of the presidential elections, numerous volunteers from Viasna were arrested and detained.
    • September 17: Marfa Rabkova, coordinator of Viasna’s volunteer service, was arrested for “training or other preparation of persons for participation in mass riots, or financing such activities.”
    • October 2: Andrei Chapiuk, a volunteer, was arrested for “participating in riots.”

Right Livelihood Foundation Protection and Advocacy

December 2020: Urgent appeal signed by German and Swedish MPs, including German Prime Minister Heiko Maas coupled with a Petition addressed to Lukashenka, signed by 31 Right Livelihood Laureates.