More than 100,000 people worldwide supported Ales Bialiatski

The human rights organization “Amnesty International” has summed up the international letter-writing marathon of solidarity with prisoner of conscience Ales Bialiatski (right), the Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the leader of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna”, dissolved by Belarusian authorities.All in all there were taken more than 104.5 thousand actions to support Bialiatski around the world: participants of the global campaign, which lasted for nearly three months, have expressed their support in various forms.

For example, in Japan and South Korea several thousands of lanterns were made (left).More than 1,000 lanterns were lit in support of Ales Bialiatski and other prisoners of conscience.
In Luxembourg, such waterproof lanterns went on a cruise down the river, informing people about different prisoners of conscience, including Ales Bialiatski. Schoolchildren from Togo wrote letters to Belarusian human rights defender, and in Paraguay a bicycle rally was organized, the participants of which afterwards signed a petition, demanding the release of Bialiatski. In Slovenia,posters were put on the streets, to tell people about the existence of prisoners of conscience. Finnish activists held an action with candles and the portraits of political prisoners.
Neighboring Poland joined the marathon by holding various artistic actions. There were nearly 40,000 events organized in support of the Belarusian human rights defender during the day. Thus, the graffiti artist painted letters falling into a postbox. Ales Bialiatski has been also painted in a big picture on the street in Warsaw.  “Calendar of compassion”, symbolizing the prison cell of Ales Bialiatski, was passed to President Bronislaw Komorowski, and an activist from Poznan showed solidarity with Ales Bialiatski by taking part in a special photo action.
A large number of citizens of European countries, starting from Italy and ending with the UK, have signed a petition for the freedom of Ales Bialiatski. Human rights defenders were giving stickers with the image of the Belarusian political prisoner for those who signed the petitions and  wrote solidarity letters.
The list of countries where the marathon was held – Austria, Belgium, the Bermudas, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ghana, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mali, Malta, Moldova, Mongolia, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Puerto-Rico, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine, Venezuela, the UK.

Amnesty Marathon launched the annual human rights letter-writing marathon on 7 December 2012, on the eve of the Universal Day of Human Rights, and was held all over the world under the slogan “Write for Rights!” Make a difference!”. The aim of such action was to draw the international attention to the fate of the human rights defenders who are persecuted by the authorities in different parts of the world.

In August 2011, Ales Bialiatski was arrested and charged with “concealment of profits on an especially large scale” under Article 243, part 2, of the Criminal Code of Belarus. On 24 November, after almost four months of pre-trial detention, the Minsk Pershamayski District Court sentenced him to four and a half years of imprisonment under strict regime conditions, confiscation of property – including the premises used for Viasna’s offices – and to a fine of 757,526,717 Belarusian Roubles (approximately 70,000 Euros). On 24 January, 2012, the Minsk City Court confirmed the sentence on appeal, after all the motions filed by Mr. Bialiatski’s lawyers were rejected. On 29 March, 2012, the same court issued a new decision, ordering him to pay an extra amount of 140,366,151 roubles (nearly 12,700 Euros) in penalty in addition to the previous fine which had already been paid in January 2012, due to alleged late payment of arrears. At its 64th session, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) adopted decision, in which it found that the detention of Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski, President of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) “Viasna” and FIDH Vice-President, was arbitrary.



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