Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ales Bialiatski Sentenced to 10 Years in Belarusian Penal Colony

Germany calls the verdict an attack on civil society and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya slams the sentencing as "appalling" in Belarus.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ales Bialiatski Sentenced to 10 Years in Belarusian Penal Colony
Ales Bialiatski

A court in Minsk, Belarus, sentenced Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski to 10 years in a maximum-security penal colony, as reported by Russia’s state news agency, TASS. The pro-democracy activist was found guilty of smuggling. Bialiatski has documented human rights abuses in Belarus since the 1980s and founded the organization Viasna in 1996.

The activist was arrested in 2020 amid widespread protests against President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime. Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya criticized the trial as “appalling,” and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called the 10-year prison term an attack on civil society. Baerbock demanded the release of all more than 1,400 political prisoners and an end to political persecution. Bialiatski won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2022 alongside human rights groups from Russia and Ukraine.

Ales Bialiatski is a well-known pro-democracy activist and human rights defender in Belarus. He has been fighting for the rights and freedoms of people in Belarus since the 1980s and founded the organization Viasna in 1996.

Viasna, which means “spring” in Belarusian, is a non-governmental human rights organization that provides assistance to victims of political repression and human rights violations in Belarus. The organization also monitors the human rights situation in Belarus and advocates for the protection of human rights.

Bialiatski’s activism has earned him international recognition, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022, which he shared with human rights groups from Russia and Ukraine. The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised the laureates for their efforts in documenting war crimes, human rights abuses, and the abuse of power in their respective countries.

However, Bialiatski’s activism has also made him a target of the Belarusian government. In 2020, he was arrested amid widespread protests against President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime and charged with smuggling.

The sentencing of Bialiatski to 10 years in a maximum-security penal colony has sparked outrage from the international community, with many condemning it as an attack on civil society and a violation of human rights. Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called the sentencing “appalling” and demanded the release of Bialiatski and other activists who were sentenced in the same trial.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also slammed the charges and trial against Bialiatski and his co-defendants as a “farce” and urged Belarus to end political persecution and release all political prisoners.

Bialiatski’s case is just one example of the ongoing human rights violations in Belarus, where political opposition and civil society activists are routinely targeted and silenced. The international community continues to call for an end to these violations and for the release of all political prisoners in Belarus.

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