Lazy eyes listen
According to Russia’s state-owned news agency Tass, a court in Belarus sentenced Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski to ten years in prison on Friday (March 3), a verdict that is likely to be strongly condemned by Western human rights groups.
Bialiatski, a pro-democracy activist and the founder of the Viasna human rights group, was convicted of financing protests and tax evasion during a wave of unrest in Belarus in 2020.
He claims to be persecuted for political reasons.
According to human rights organizations, Belarus has approximately 1,500 political prisoners.
Many have been imprisoned since the suppression of the 2020 protests, which erupted after Alexander Lukashenko declared himself re-elected in fraudulent polls, according to the West and the Belarusian opposition.
Bialiatski was arrested in 2021 after massive street protests over widely disputed elections that kept Lukashengko in power the year before.
The police were brutal to demonstrators, and Lukashenko critics were regularly arrested and jailed during the protests.
Bialiatski, one of three Nobel Peace Prize laureates in 2022, has been held without charge since his arrest.
Belarusian journalist Hanna Lubiakova said Viasna had been targeted by the authorities in Minsk because it helped victims of repression to pay for fines and lawyers, and Bialiatski himself was “the face of the organisation”.
Berit Reiss-Andersen, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, stated when awarding the 2022 prize that “government authorities have repeatedly sought to silence.” Bialiatski