Ales Bialiatski (Belarus)

From the start of the 1980s, Ales Bialiatski, a young Belarusian writer and graduate of the Gomel University Faculty of History and Philology, joined the national democratic movement. While the world was still divided by the Iron Curtain, he became a founding member of the Belarusian Popular Front. Helping to create a young writers’ association that he chaired for several years, Ales went on to join the Belarusian Writers’ Union. Later, he organised the first demonstrations against totalitarianism.

This commitment led to his imprisonment in 1988, marking the start of a long series of arrests and harassment.

In 1996, in the face of the increasing repression of the Lukachenko regime, Ales Bialiatski created the Human Rights Centre Viasna. In 2007, just three years after joining International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Ales Bialiatski was elected its Vice-President, the first representative of the former Soviet countries to be elected to the FIDH International Board.

Diary entry for 22. April 2005, To the Castle and Back

„To tell you the truth, it’s not just Americans and other foreigners who think of me as a kind of fairy-tale prince or at least as the main character in a fairy tale; I too am often aware of something utterly unbelievable in my own destiny. And I’m less and less able to understand that destiny; at times I even see myself as a minor freak of history.“

Václav Havel:
Diary entry for 22. April 2005, To the Castle and Back, 2006

What Price Human Rights?