Ales Bialiatski spent his 50th birthday in a punishment cell
While throughout the world, people were sending their greetings and words of support to Ales Bialiatski, Head of the Viasna Human Rights Centre and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Belarusian prison authorities marked his birthday in a specific way. Viasna has learned that Ales Bialiatski was put into a punishment cell just before his birthday.
They note with concern that pressure on him has been increased recently.
From May to June he was punished three times, once by losing his right to a long-term meeting with his wife (he is only allowed two each year). At the end of July he was declared a “persistent offender”. This prevents any use of the amnesty law and also reduces the amount of money he is allowed to spend on food a month. This has been reduced from 100 thousand rubles from 500 thousand, when it is likely the food given prisoners is sparse and inadequate.
Via contact with a former political prisoner, it is also reported that other prisoners come under pressure from the authorities if they have any contact with Ales Bialiatski.
Ales Bialiatski was convicted of “tax evasion” in November 2011 and sentenced to 4.5 years. The charges, condemned throughout the democratic world, were in connection with accounts opened and used to transfer money from abroad to Belarus to help victims of political repression, since Viasna was officially dissolved by the Belarusian regime in 2003.
There was outrage and consternation when it was discovered that both the Lithuanian Justice Ministry and the Polish Prosecutor General’s Office gave information about accounts to the Belarusian authorities
In December 2011 Bialiatski was named Human Rights Defender of the Year by leading Belarusian human rights organizations named Ales Bialiatski Human Rights Defender of the Year.
New information reported by Viasna