A criminal case was opened against the human rights center Viasna. People and an organization that helps victims of political repression are accused of organizing and actively participating in group actions that grossly violate public order, Art. 342 of the Criminal Code.
The head of the organization, human rights defender, and member of the Constitutional Court, Ales Bialiatski, was sentenced in 2011 to 4.5 years in prison. Currently, four Viasna volunteers are in prison.
The criminal prosecution against Vesna grossly violates several international agreements signed by the Republic of Belarus.
In their statement, Viasna representatives demand from the authorities:
- Stop criminal prosecution and release from custody human rights defenders and volunteers of HRC Viasna, as well as colleagues from the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- Stop the practice of arresting and prosecuting human rights defenders in Belarus and guarantee the opportunity to carry out their legitimate activities.
Representatives of the Coalition of Belarusian Human Rights Organizations prepared a statement in support of Viasna and addressed several special rapporteurs: the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.