Human Rights Center ‘Viasna’ founder Ales Byalyatski celebrates birthday behind bars

A political prisoner Ales Byalyatski, founder and head of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” celebrated his birthday yesterday. He turned 59 years old.

Ales Byalyatski. Photo: Belsat

Ales Byalyatski was detained on July 14, 2021, as part of a massive attack of the security services on the human rights community in Belarus. He was charged under Article 342 (“Organization and preparation of actions seriously violating public order or active participation in them.”) and Article 243 (“Tax evasion”) of the Criminal Code. He is now kept in detention center #1 in Minsk. Ales has been recognized as a political prisoner.

According to, the Vice-President of the European Parliament and the symbolic godmother of political prisoner, Nicola Beer, congratulated Byalyatski on his birthday. In her video message, she wished the human rights activist to celebrate his next birthday in a democratic Belarus.

Ales Byalyatski was congratulated on his birthday by well-known human rights activists around the world.

Ales is the founder and head of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” and vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) from 2007 to 2016.

During his 25 years of activity, Ales Byalyatski has received numerous prizes and awards: the Swedish Per Unger Award in 2006, the Andrei Sakharov Freedom Prize, the Homo Nomipi Award presented by Vaclav Havel, the 2011 Diploma for Courage and Fight for Freedom, the Best Human Rights Defender of the Year Award, the Norwegian Writers Union Award “For Freedom of Speech”, the 2012 US Department of State Award Lech Walesa Award, the Petrie Kelly Award in recognition of his work in defending human rights in Belarus, in 2013 the Vaclav Havel Award from PACE, in 2019 the Award for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, and in 2020 the Sakharov Prize for a Decent Life and the Sakharov Prize together with others. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times. Ales is the author of several books.

Ales has previously been a political prisoner. He was arrested in August 2011 and sentenced to 4.5 years in a strict regime colony with confiscation of property. He served his sentence in the Zhodzina prison and in the Babruisk colony. He was released in June 2014 on amnesty.