Four human rights defenders from DIGNITY’s Belarusian cooperation partner Viasna were sentenced to long prison terms on Friday after unfair trials
»Today’s sentences in Minsk are an appalling testimony to the character of the Belarusian regime«, says DIGNITY CEO Rasmus Grue Christensen, commenting on Friday’s verdicts against Belarusian human rights defender and 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski and three of his associates.
All four co-defendants represent DIGNITY’s Belarusian cooperation partner Viasna. Chairman of Viasna Ales Bialiatski was sentenced to 10 years in prison. His deputy Valiantsin Stefanovich received a sentence of 9 years. The coordinator of Viasna’s campaign for free elections, lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich, was sentenced to 7 years in prison, while Viasna board member Dzimitry Salauyou was sentenced, in absentia, to 8 years.
Among the fabricated charges against the four Viasna representatives was so-called »financing of group actions grossly violating public order«.
»All our Viasna partners have done, is legitimate work for democracy and free elections and against torture and ill-treatment. Today’s sentences underline the importance of the accountability work we are doing with Viasna and others in the IAPB«, says Rasmus Grue Christensen.
The International Accountability Platform for Belarus (IAPB) was founded in 2021 with DIGNITY as lead and Viasna as co-lead. The platform’s purpose is to collect, consolidate, verify, and preserve evidence of gross human rights violations committed by Belarusian authorities in the run-up to the presidential election in 2020 and its aftermath.
»We have committed ourselves to contributing to accountability for the Belarusian state perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment. Our determination to continue this important work has only been reinforced by the unfair trial and the unjust sentences at the court in Minsk«, adds Rasmus Grue Christensen.