The award-giving committee Peace Nobel condemned on Friday the “politically motivated” verdict delivered the same day against the Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatskirecognized with this award last year.
“The trial and the accusations against him are politically motivated,” Norwegian committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said in a statement. “The verdict shows that the current regime resorts to any means to suppress its opponents.”
The European Union (EU) expressed this Friday its “dismay” for the ten-year prison sentence of the Belarusian human rights defender and called for his release.
“Dismayed” by the sentence, wrote on her profile on the social network Twitter the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, who recalled in her message that Bialiatski is also a Sakharov Prize, the award for freedom of conscience granted by the European Parliament.
“The politically motivated sentences against Bialiatski and the Viasna activists (the NGO he runs) are an insult to justice. I ask for your release”, indicated Metsola, who added that the European Parliament “supports a free Belarus”.
for his part Peter Stano, Spokesperson for the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrelltold the daily press conference of the European Commission that “we are observing and following very closely what is happening in Belarus.”
In particular, he referred to “all the continued repression of the illegitimate regime of (Belarusian President Alexandr) Lukashenko against political opponents, against independent voices, against civil society activists, human rights defenders and the media.”
The spokesman, who advanced that Borrell will express himself later on the condemnation of Bialiatski in a “very firm” statement, stressed that in the EU “we support civil society in Belarus, we support the people.”
A Minsk court found Bialiatski and three other human rights activists from the Viasna organization of smuggling, organized group and financing of collective actions that seriously undermine public order.
Therefore, he imposed on them 7 to 10 years in prison while the Prosecutor’s Office requested between 9 and 12 years.
The NGO Viasna (“spring”) specified that two other activists tried together with Bialiatski, Valentin Stefanovitch and Vladimir Labkovitch, received sentences of nine and seven years in prison, respectively.
All three were jailed following historic demonstrations against the controversial 2020 re-election of Belarusian dictator, Alexander Lukashenkoto a sixth term.
A fourth defendant, Dmitri Soloviev, tried in absentia after having fled to Poland, was sentenced to eight years in prison. All were also sentenced to pay a fine of about $70,000.
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskayacalled the conviction a “shameful injustice.”
“We must do everything possible to fight against this shameful injustice,” Tijanóvskaya declared on Twitter.
The German Minister for Foreign Affairs, Annalena Baebockdescribed the trial as a “farce” and noted that they were sentenced for their “commitment to the rights, dignity and freedom of people in Belarus.”
And Poland’s prime minister called the sentence “shocking.”
During the trial the three activists claimed their innocence.
Bialiatski already spent almost three years in prison in Belarus between 2011 and 2014 after being convicted in another case denounced as political.
As of March 1, Belarus held 1,461 political prisoners, according to Viasna.
(With information from AFP and EFE)
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