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Jailed Belarusian opposition activist gets Nobel Prize nomination

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 19.04.2012 13:32
Ales Bialacki, the Belarusian opposition activist currently serving a four and a half year jail term, has been officially nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Polskie Radio/Włodzimierz Pac

Ales Bialacki: photo - PR/Włodzimierz Pac

Ales Bialatski, president of the Viasna Human Rights Center was arrested on August 4, 2011 in Belarus and charged with “serious tax evasion”

Poland, the EU and other organizations have condemned the arrest and jail term as being politically motivated by the regime of President Aleksander Lukashenko.

In March, Poland’s MPs passed a motion in the lower house of parliament (Sejm) which called for the release of all of Belarus’s prisoners of conscience and that Bialacki be nomnated for the peace prize.

The motion read that, “supporting the initiative of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Ales Bialacki, a human rights defender in Belarus, the Sejm expresses its gratitude to the MPs of all the EU countries and to the Council of Europe, which supported Bialacki's candidacy and calls for further steps in this issue.”

The nomination was backed by the Council of Europe.

Poland and Lithuania unwittingly paved the way for Bialiatski's August 2011 arrest, after supplying details of the activist's bank accounts.

Both countries later apologised, with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski describing the situation as “a reprehensible mistake,” claiming that Minsk had taken advantage of international anti-terrorism laws.

Defenders of Bialiatski stress that the money kept in foreign bank accounts was for the aid of those suffering human rights abuses.
Amnesty International has described Bialiatski as “a prisoner of conscience.”

His nomination echoes that of Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 while under arrest. (pg/nh)

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