The White Knights

4 August marked the second anniversary of the arrest of leading activist of human rights movement in Belarus, Ales Bialiatski. The man known virtually throughout the all civilized world was imprisoned by the sentence of the court, which had clearly political character.

After the initiation of criminal proceedings, instigated on the pretext of alleged tax fraud, Ales Bialiatski was not detained, moreover, he was persuaded to leave the country. Even if the President of the Human Rights Centre Viasna did such a step, he would meet with an understanding of the overwhelming part of his supporters and collegues. As it happened in the case of a large number of political emigres who were then threatened with jail and who left Belarus.

I suspect that Ales Bialiatski was thinking in the same way when he consciously made his choice and was aware of the consequences of the confinement. However, there are people with a precise sense of their mission and purpose in life. I’m sure that when Ales Bialiatski decided to fight for the truth he did not take into consideration himself. Ales Bialiatski is a true knight of freedom. He thought about those political prisoners who were already behind bars after Ploshcha 2010 as well as about those who could be imprisoned very soon. Surely he was thinking about our situation in Belarus, on which he would have little influence from abroad.

His decision was fully aware. He remained in Belarus to the end of the process, when he again, precisely and logically justified his innocence, refuting the charges. Ales is well aware of his high position among human rights activists. Sacrificing his freedom, Ales Bialacki attracted and still attracts the attention of international structures and organizations to socio-political situation in Belarus.

However, the Human Rights Center Viasna, founded by Ales Bialiatski, along with his friends and colleagues, managed during the 17 years of its activity to help thousands of innocent and oppressed countrymen. And it will continue its noble mission, it still shapes the Belarusian solidarity and civil society, ignoring the systematic and various forms of persecution of its members.

In recent days, I received several letters – from Ales Bialiatski, Dzmitri Dashkievich, and Paval Siaviaryniec. Three political prisoners, three activists, three faithful people of the three different Christian denominations. I never cease to wonder at the power and constancy of spirit of the people who found themselves in prison and continue to inspire others, all of us, staying in a much more favorable conditions. In their letters, these individuals often quote verses from the Gospel, which feed their spirit.

One  can recognize all twelve current political prisoners as true apostles of the spirit, white knights of our freedom. We could see this often, when those calm and focused heroes saved the honor of our nation, overwhelmed with engulfed hypocrisy and indifference, greed and anger, jealousy and conformism. They save the honor of the nation, which in no way can in its critical mass  decide what is the truth and what is the lie.

Meanwhile, the state authorities, regardless of the alleged power they have, always lose by the use of the unjust forms of persecution of those brave men. Thus goes numerous examples from history, the ancient as well as the newest. The only way for the authorities to save face, is immediate release of political prisoners and their rehabilitation. Belarusian authorities do not show good will in this regard, but the world has seen bigger surprises.

Belarus is a big country, not only because of its very rich historical and cultural legacy. It is a great country because it raises such stalwart sons, such fighters for justice, the White Knights …

Uladzimir Chilmanovich

Other political prisoners