Source: Viasna Belarus Human Rights Center in English
On December 10, the Human Rights Center “Viasna” was awarded the Polish Prize of Sérgio Vieira de Mello, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Viasna won the prize in the category “Non-Governmental Organization”.
In the category “Person”, the winner is Hussein Koro Ibrahim Al-Qaidi (Iraq), a Yazidi defender in Kurdistan. The Honorary Prize was awarded to former prisoner of Auschwitz and Buchenwald Marian Turski (Poland).
“Viasna has been helping the victims of the regime for almost 25 years. Now that the repressions of the Belarusian authorities against their citizens have become massive, the role of Viasna is crucial. Thanks to engaging its volunteers, the organization has collected evidence of abuse and repression, including the lists of detainees. Viasna has helped thousands of people,” said Paweł Radomski, director of the United Nations and Human Rights Department at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ales Bialiatski, Chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, spoke at the online award ceremony to recall that the entire history of Viasna has been strongly connected with the history of Belarus:
“Would we be working to protect rights in Belarus if we knew it would take 26 years? If we knew that 17 years of them Viasna would exist without registration, that dozens of our colleagues would be fired, go through the courts, searches, would be left without social security? The state did everything to marginalize human rights activists, to reduce the influence of Viasna on the course of events in society. But we stubbornly disagreed and continued to work.
And now came the time when the people spoke. Hundreds of thousands of people came out to protest against election fraud, violence and to demand to punish criminals guilty of torture. The regime shook, but so far is holding, thanks to even greater levels of repression and restrictions. At this difficult time, the work of Viasna is more necessary than ever.”