Marek Migalski, a Polish member of the European Parliament, has called on the European Commission to discuss the recent sentencing of three human rights defenders in Belarus to fines for posting a photograph in support of their imprisoned associate Ales Bialiatski on a website.
Dr. Migalski urges the European Commission to intervene and speak out against the persecution of Belarus’ civil society, the MEP’s office reports. “There is a growing wave of repression by Belarusian authorities against civil society activists and opposition representatives,” the Polish MEP says. “Citizens continue to be denied their right to defend their views and participate in peaceful protests.”
On January 5, a judge of the Leninski District Court in Hrodna found rights defenders Viktar Sazonau, Raman Yurhel and Uladzimir Khilmanovich guilty of violation of regulations governing “mass events” and fine of 1.5 million rubels ($170).
They posed for the photograph on December 10, International Human Rights Day, holding images of Mr. Bialiatski, the imprisoned chairman of human rights organization Viasna (Spring).
Ales Bialiatski, Vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights, was sentenced to 4.5 years of imprisonment and seizure of property for alleged tax evasion. The fact of his holding bank accounts in Poland and Lithuania gave the grounds for criminal prosecution. The cash standing to the credit of accounts was used for human rights defence activity: the centre financially supported the people affected by Lukashenka’s regime. In court Bialiatski stated that he had no other possibility of getting financial aid from foreign backers.