BELARUS.— Several international organizations have condemned the arbitrary arrest of the prominent Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski.
Ales Bialiatski, President of Human Rights Centre Viasna and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights, was detained on 4 August in central Minsk.
Ales Bialiatski was allegedly detained by men in plain clothes claiming to be police representatives of the Department of Financial Investigations.
Following his detention, Ales Bialiatski was taken to his apartment, which was then searched. Afterwards, he was taken to the Viasna office which was also searched. Documents and office equipment were confiscated from the Viasna office, and a computer was taken from his apartment.
Bialiatski’s wife and child were taken to their summer home outside of Minsk, which was also searched.
Bialiatski is currently detained at the detention centre of the Interior Ministry, which is known for its harsh conditions of detention.
Reportedly, the arrest is related to a criminal case against Bialiatski for tax-evasion.
This is not the first incidence of harassment faced by Bialiatski. On 14 February, Bialiatski received a phone call summoning him to the office of the Public Prosecutor. A written warning was given to Bialiatski alleging that the human rights activities of Viasna were breaching Belarusian legislation.
Human Rights Centre Viasna has been active in Belarus since 1998 and was registered as a non-governmental organization in 1999. In 2003 its official status was withdrawn following its work on election monitoring. The authorities have repeatedly obstructed the organization’s official registration.
Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for OHCHR in Geneva, made the statement, “Given the many worrying reports of harassment of human rights defenders in Belarus, we call on the authorities to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of [Mr.] Bialatski and all human rights defenders in Belarus.”
International organizations have argued that the Government of Belarus is obliged by the international treaties which it has ratified, to ensure respect for the rights and freedoms of human rights defenders.