Belarusian activist gets human rights prize

Sept. 30, 2013 at 10:19 AM
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PARIS, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- A human rights reward for jailed Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski serves a reminder to the EU of repression in its backyard, a rights consortium said.

The Council of Europe awarded Bialiatski with its Vaclav Haven Human Rights Prize for 2013. He's the president of the Viasna Human Rights Center in Belarus and a vice president of the International Federation for Human Rights, known by its French initials FIDH.

He was arrested on tax evasion charges in 2011 and sentenced to more than four years in prison. Human Rights Watch said Bialiatski was subjected to harsh treatment while behind bars.

FIDH, based in Paris, said the government in Belarus has "no shame" in targeting Bialiatski's organization and others like it in the country.

"I hope this prize will remind the international community and particularly European states that there are still regimes nearby who repress their own population in complete impunity," FIDH President Karim Lahidji said in a statement Monday.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation had said there was a general lack of political freedom in Belarus. Several opponents of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko were imprisoned following December 2010 elections.

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