Who is Ales Bialiatski? Why Belarus sentenced 10-yr jail term to Nobel laureate? | Mint
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Business News/ News / World/  Who is Ales Bialiatski? Why Belarus sentenced 10-yr jail term to Nobel laureate?
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Who is Ales Bialiatski? Why Belarus sentenced 10-yr jail term to Nobel laureate?

Human rights activists across the world cited that Ales Bialiatski's arrest is ‘politically motivated’

Human rights activist Ales Bialiatski is massively popular in country for his resistance movement against President Alexander Lukashenko (via REUTERS)Premium
Human rights activist Ales Bialiatski is massively popular in country for his resistance movement against President Alexander Lukashenko (via REUTERS)

Belarus court sentencing 10-year jail term to Ales Bialiatski, Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights activist, has triggered massive protests in the country and across the world. Bialiatski is massively popular in country for his resistance movement against President Alexander Lukashenko led crackdown since mid 90s and human rights activists across the world cited that his arrest is ‘politically motivated’. Here is a deeper look into the facts around the controversy:

Who is Ales Bialiatski?  

Ales Bialiatski first came into prominence in 1996 after he founded the human rights group Viasna in response to the brutal crackdown on dissenters following President Alexander Lukashenko's rise to power. 

In 2011, Bialiatski was jailed for three years for tax evasion, which human right activist around the world has criticized as politically-motivated in the wake of an earlier presidential election claimed by Lukashenko. 

Later in 2021, Bialiatski became one of the most prominent of hundreds of Belarusians who were jailed during a crackdown of anti-government protests. During this period, 35,000 people were arrested, and thousands were beaten by police. Viasna took a leading role in providing legal and financial assistance to those jailed.

The following year, Bialiatski and three co-defendants were arrested on charges of tax evasion and later charged with financing protests and smuggling money. And on Friday, Belta, the state news agency of Belarus, confirmed that the court had handed down long jail sentences to all four men.

Despite the government's aim to hush him down, Bialiatski has gained support from world over. 

In 2022, Bialiatski was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside the Russian rights group Memorial and Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties. He is the fourth person in the 121-year history of the Nobel Prizes to receive the award while in prison or detention. 

How people are protesting against the arrest? 

Berit Reiss-Andersen, leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, called Bialiatski's conviction a politically motivated "tragedy." The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over the lack of fair trial proceedings and access to an independent judiciary in Belarus, which places human rights defenders at risk of criminal prosecution for their legitimate activities.

Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told a briefing in Geneva that the United Nations body was disturbed by the trial and worried by “the lack of fair trial proceedings and access to an independent judiciary in Belarus".

That, she said, placed human rights defenders at risk of criminal prosecution for their legitimate activities.

At the end of 2022, at least 1,446 people, including 10 children, were being held and facing criminal proceedings in Belarus. 

 

 

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Published: 04 Mar 2023, 07:18 PM IST
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