Responding to the news that human rights organisations from Ukraine and Russia, as well as rights advocate Ales Bialiatski of Belarus, have been awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:
“The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to human rights defenders and organizations from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine highlights the vital role they play in defending human rights in their countries and the wider region.”
“The Nobel Committee is sending an important message to the world – that it must support human rights defenders that have shown an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human rights abuses and the abuse of power in their countries. This message is sent at a critical moment when ongoing Russian aggression has led to a human rights crisis of incredible proportions in Ukraine, and of the crackdown on any form of dissent in Russia and Belarus.
“This is also a message of solidarity. Since July 2021 Ales Bialiatski, a pioneer of human rights in Belarus since the mid-1980’s, has been behind bars for his peaceful work documenting, among other things, the crackdown on dissent following the disputed 2020 presidential elections. Memorial, one of the oldest Russian human rights organisations, was shut down by the Russian authorities at the end of 2021, and the Center for Civil Liberties has been documenting Russian war crimes in Ukraine since 2014 and continues its work in Ukraine despite the ongoing Russian war of aggression.
“Amnesty International stands in solidarity with Ales Bialiatski, Memorial and the Center for Civil Liberties. All three are an inspiration and an example of courage and dedication for all those who carry out human rights work in Eastern Europe.”
Amnesty International stands in solidarity with Ales Bialiatski, Memorial and the Center for Civil Liberties. All three are an inspiration and an example of courage and dedication for all those who carry out human rights work in Eastern EuropeAgnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General
Ales Bialiatski, the chairman and founder of the Human Rights Centre Viasna in 1996, is held in a pre-trial detention centre since July 2021. Along with his fellow colleagues, Viasna vice-chair Valyantsin Stefanovich and the organization’s lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich, he’s falsely charged with “smuggling of large sums of money and financing group activities that grossly violated public order” as retaliation for his lawful human rights work.
Between 2011 and 2014, Ales Bialiatski served a sentence on trumped up charges of tax evasion. Then, as now, Amnesty International recognises him as a prisoner of conscience.
Memorial is one of the oldest and most respected human rights groups in Russia that started operating in 1988. The Soviet dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov was the first chair of Memorial until his death in 1989. Memorial was liquidated by a court order in December 2021 on grounds of violation of the now infamous “foreign agents” law. The Russian authorities labelled Memorial a ‘foreign agent’ in 2013. Currently, Memorial continues operating without official registration.
The Center for Civil Liberties, founded in Ukraine in 2007, is currently playing a critical role in efforts to identify and document war crimes committed in Ukrainian territory under effective Russian control since 2014 and occupied during the 2022 invasion.