FIGHT FOR RIGHTS: Alias Bialiatski pays the price for speaking out for human rights in Belarus.
VILNIUS - Lithuanian and Belarusian citizens on Monday held a rally at the Belarusian Embassy in Vilnius in support of the imprisoned Belarusian human rights activist Alias Bialiatski. The activist is serving time, in Belarus, on a 4.5 year sentence, reports ELTA.
On the first year anniversary of the activist’s imprisonment, the rally participants handed out a petition for the release of Bialiatski and other political prisoners to the Belarusian ambassador in Lithuania. They also called for an immediate halt to all repressions against the civil society of Belarus.
“Any official reaction is not very likely, but sometimes it is important just to show solidarity. It is even more important than government actions. We want people to know that we care about them and will do everything possible to get them released,” said Belarusian human rights activist Anna Yasimova on Lithuania’s national TV.
“In any case, we cannot keep silent given such a situation. I believe that Belarus’ government will react, because previously, some political prisoners were released after foreign pressure. Similar campaigns were held in other post-Soviet countries in Europe and we expect Bialiatski to regain freedom following them,” said the human rights activist from Ukraine, Constantine Reucki.
Belarus hasn’t stopped with just imprisoning its own people for demanding freedom in its antagonizing the West. On Aug. 3, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Carl Bildt, reported that the Swedish ambassador had been expelled from Belarus. According to Bildt, the reason for the expulsion was that Ambassador Stefan Eriksson had taken a too favorable view towards promoting human rights. Belarus in turn announced that the ambassador had established relations with the opposition movements in Belarus.
When commenting on the move by Belarus to expel the Swedish ambassador from the country, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet noted that the only consequence of this step is further destabilization of relations between the EU and Belarus, reports Delfi.ee.
“The Swedish ambassador to Belarus acted within the norms of international law and accusations from the authorities of Belarus are politically motivated,” said the Estonian minister in an interview with Delfi.
He added that the European Union will discuss the issue in the European Union Policy and Security Committee, but he could not as yet comment on the substance of possible countermeasures to be taken by the EU.