Statement by the Human Rights Center "Viasna"
14 July 2021
On 14 July 2021, the Belarusian authorities again attacked human rights organizations and other NGOs, human rights defenders, and activists: the offices of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the Lawtrend Center for Legal Transformation, the Movement for Freedom and the Association of Belarusians of the World "Fatherland", the Gender Perspectives, the Office of European expertise and communication, and others. After the search of the apartments, the following members of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" were detained: member of the Visna organization board and vice-president of FIDH Valiantsin Stefanovich, Uladzimir Labkovich, Siarhei Sys, Viktar Sazonau, Aleh Matskevich, Alena Laptsionak, Ihar Kazmerchak, coordinator of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty" Andrei Paluda, as well as human rights activist Yauheniya Babajeva.
Since this morning, chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Ales Bialiatski can't be reached.
In light of these events, the Human Rights Center "Viasna" reiterates:
HRC "Viasna", as well as our colleagues - human rights activists in the country and abroad - pursues exclusively legal aims and carries out peaceful activity in defense of human rights and basic freedoms in Belarus, guaranteed both by the Constitution and international norms in the field of human rights. Any pressure and prosecution of our members for such activities is politically motivated persecution aimed at the destruction of our organization and freedom of association in Belarus as a whole.
We firmly state that the real motive for harassment is our uncompromising struggle with the entire human rights community in Belarus for the promotion and advancement of human rights and democratic values, against torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and our actions in defense of human rights, the right to life, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly - including now, in the deep political crisis after the 2020 presidential elections.
We condemn the new wave of repression against members of our organization and civil society in Belarus and declare that we will not stop our human rights activities.
We demand the immediate release of detained Valiantsin Stefanovich, Uladzimir Labkovich, Andrei Paluda, Siarhei Sys, Alena Laptsenak, Aleh Matskevich, Ihar Kazmerchak, and other human rights defenders.
We reiterate the demand to release members of our organization Marfa Rabkova, Andrei Chapiuk, Leanid Sudalenka, and Tatsiana Lasitsa.
We demand the end of repressions in the country and the release of all political prisoners.
We call upon international organizations and human rights activists of all countries to strongly protest against further gross human rights violations and persecution of human rights defenders in Belarus.