Winner of the 2013 VH Prize

On Monday, September 30th, at 12:30 CET, Jean-Claude Mignon announced at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg that Ales Bialiatski had been named the historic first laureate of the Václav Havel Award for Human Rights.

Ales Bialiatski

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.

Civic society:
Freedom is not to be taken for granted

In honour of the first laureate of the Václav Havel Award for Human Rights, the Václav Havel Library was organised in cooperation with the Charter 77 Foundation a one-day conference entitled Civic Society: Freedom Is Not To Be Taken For Granted on Wednesday 2 October

9:30 am – 10:00 am Welcome Speech

  • MARTA SMOLÍKOVÁ – Václav Havel Library
  • FRANTIŠEK JANOUCH – Charta 77 Foundationn

10:00 am –11:30 am I. Panel: Human rights: Legacy of President Václav Havel

Václav Havel and his perspective on human rights issues. How is freedom defined and how we can protect it?
  • Moderator: Jacques Rupnik – Sciences PO / CERI, France
  • Ladan Boroumand – Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy in Iran, France
  • Svetlana Gannuskina – Memorial, Russia 
  • Rosa María Payá ACEVEDO – Christian Liberation Movement, Cuba
  • Bill Shipsey – Art for Amnesty, Ireland
  • Vincuk Viacorka – Supolnasc Civil Society Center, Belarus
  • Teng Biao – China University of Political Science and Law, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China Against Death Penalty, China

11:45 am – 1:15 pm II. Panel: Human rights NGOs under the State Repression

Acknowledging the work of non-profit and non-governmental institutions in the authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes or in the states infringing the human rights; currently facing increased pressure and worsen legal conditions for their work and pure existence.
  • Moderator: Irina Lagunina – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Pavol Demeš – European Endowment for Democracy, Slovak Republic
  • Rasul Jafarov – Human Rights Club, Azerbaijan
  • Alexander Verchovskij – Center for Information and Analysis SOVA, Russia
  • Tamara Mackiewicz – Belarus
  • Adam Bodnar – Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Warsaw, Poland

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Interview with laureate of Václav Havel Human Rights Prize

  • Moderator Martin Palouš – Václav Havel Library, Czech Republic
  • LAUREATE: NATALIA Pinchuk - Ales Bialiatski´s Wife
  • Teng Biao - Rights Defece Network
  • KAKHA KOZHORIDZE - Georgian Young Lawers´ Association

3:00 pm – 4:30 pm III. Panel: Leveraging Power: What are the tools that help?

How can mature democracies effectively pursue human rights protection outside its territories? What are the tools that are efficient? Do economic sanctions really work? Do we have legal tools available or do we rely on soft measures of solidarity expressions? Evaluation of the sanctions by the receivers.
  • Moderator: Jan Macháček – Vaclav Havel Library, Czech Republic
  • Jeffrey J. Schott – Peterson Institute, United States
  • Min Ko Naing – Burma
  • Natalia Taubina – Public Verdict Foundation, Russia

4:30 pm – 5:00 pm Closing remarks

  • Karel Schwarzenberg, minister of foreign affairs of the Czech Republic and one of the founders of the Václav Havel Library

Photogallery

A Word about Words – samizdat essay

„The point I am trying to make is that words are a mysterious, ambiguous, ambivalent and perfidious phenomenon. They can be rays of light in a realm of darkness, as Belinsky once described Ostrovsky’s Storm. They can also be lethal arrows. Worst or all, at times they can be one or the other. They can even be both at once!“

Václav Havel:
A Word about Words – samizdat essay, July 25, 1989

What Price Human Rights?