On November, 25 a court in Minsk delivered a verdict for Ales Bialiatski, vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the head of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna.” The court found Bialiatski guilty and sentenced him for 4,5 years of imprisonment in a colony of a reinforced regime and seizure of property.
On November 25, protest actions took place in different cities around the world. In St Petersburg human rights activists and social activists organised a series of single-person pickets at the department of the embassy of the Republic of Belraus. Those who came to support Ales and Belarusian human rights activists rolled open the posters “Freedom for Ales Bialiatski!” and “Freedom for political prisoners!” Two out of three participants of the action were arrested right after the beginning of the picket. A formal reason for such activities of the law-enforcement agencies was that the action was held “at the same registered address”. The detainees were released late in the evening after the protocols of administrative violations were written.
Ales was accused in “evasion of taxes on an especially large scale” and arrested on August 4. There is no doubt that the underlying reason of persecution is political one. The trial against Ales and the verdict is an attempt of the authorities to destroy the human rights movement in Belarus and stop the work of the human rights center “Viasna”.
Human rights centre “Viasna” has provided help to the residents of Belarus – victims of violence – for 15 years. The relatives of political prisoners and missed politicians and thousands of Belarusians who were punished for their public and political activities remember this.
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO
Paris, 25 November 2011
I am writing to you to call for the immediate and unconditional release of and the dropping of all charges against the FIDH Vice-President Mr. Ales Bialiaski, also President of the Human Rights Center «Viasna», who was sentenced yesterday by the Pervomaiski District Court of Minsk to 4,5 years of strict regime detention and confiscation of his property, including the offices of “Viasna” on charges of “serious tax evasion.”
Mr. Bialiatski, through his legitimate human rights activities, has always defended the rights of the victims of human rights violations in utmost transparency. He was judged on the basis of irrelevant proof material and testimonies in the framework of a political trial initiated by the KGB, in order to stop his human rights activities and those of his organisation Human Rights Center “Viasna.”
M. Bialiatski has been arbitrarly detained since the day he was arrested, on 4 August 2011.
I was appalled to hear that, during his trial, Mr. Bialiatski has been targeted with a massive difammation campaign operated through the state control media, depicting him as the public enemy and a traitor for the nation.
I urge the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release our Vice-President, to abandon all the charges against him, and to allow the people of Belarus to enjoy their human rights according to international law. The systematic suppression of human rights activities tarnishes the image of Belarus.
You will find enclosed FIDH Press Release of 24 November 2011, the Press Releases and Urgent Appeals of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, dated 24 November 2011, 9 November 2011 and 9 August 2011, which condemn both the arbitrary detention and condemnation of Mr. Bialiatski and the massive public media campaign targeting him.
I strongly hope that you will take these requests and considerations into account.
 A joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).