Call for immediate release and rehabilitation of Ales Bialiatski

Call for immediate release and rehabilitation of Ales Bialiatski We, the undersigned 64 human rights organizations, members and partners of the Human Rights House Network, resolutely condemn the court verdict to sentence Ales Bialiatski to 4,5 years imprisonment with confiscationof his property. We call upon the Belarusian Authorities to immediately drop all charges against Ales Bialiatski and stop his Criminal prosecution.

 On Thursday, 24 November 2011, the Minsk Pershamaiski District Court announced its verdict to sentence Ales Bialiatski to 4,5 years imprisonment with the confiscation of all his property, including property registered to other persons, on charges of tax evasion.

Ales Bialiatski is the Chairperson of the Human Rights Centre "Viansa", Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and one of the founders of the Belarusian Human Rights House in Vilnius. He is a well-known and internationally recognised human rights defender.

On 4 August 2011, Ales Bialiatski was detained in Minsk on alleged suspicion of ‘concealment of income on an especially large scale’. His trial started on 2 November and was widely condemned by the international community.

The case of Ales Bialiatski has received high-level attention and concerns in the international community. On 24 November 2011, Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, and Stefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, deplored the harsh sentencing of Ales Bialiatski and considers it to be politically motivated. "It targets Ales Byalyatski and the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" for their courageous support to victims of repression in Belarus. As such, it is a symbol of the ever intensifying crackdown on civil society in the country since the 19 December 2010 Presidential elections."

In a joint statement on 24 November 2011, three United Nations special rapporteurs warned that the new legislative amendments recently adopted by the National Assembly of Belarus may severely and arbitrarily restrict the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression, and breach international law.

We believe that Ales Bialiatski is punished for his legitimate engagement in promoting and protecting human rights in Belarus. Proceedings against Ales Bialiatski constitute one more action by the Belarusian government against human rights defenders to try to silence voices that uphold Belarus’ human rights obligations.

Human Rights House Network (HRHN)

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