The organizing committee of Charter’97 determined nominees for National Human Rights Award 2008. Prize “For Personal Courage” is given to Alyaksandr Barazenka, Andrei Kim, Syarhei Parsyukevich, and Halina Yubko. Yulia Darashkevich won in the nomination “For Defence of Freedom of Speech Principles”.
Activist of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Alyaksandr Barazenka was sentenced to one year of imprisonment in a penal facility on December 9, 2008. The young oppositionist was involved in the so called Process of 14, the case instigated against a peaceful protest rally of entrepreneurs. In spring 2008, when the demonstrators were tried, Alyaksandr Barazenka was in Poland, where he continued his education after he had been expelled from a Minsk university for his political views. The youth activist returned to Minsk on his own will and came to an investigator because he thought he is not guilty and shouldn’t fear for his participation in a fair rally to protect human rights. But Barazenka was arrested in the investigator’s office. The oppositionist spent 1.5 months in the pretrial detention facility and was released in the courtroom yesterday. According to Barazenka, John Paul II’s words “Don’t be afraid!” supported him in jail.
In April, 2008, youth leader Andrei Kim was sentenced to 1.5 year of imprisonment. The guy was convicted for he defended the rights of entrepreneurs at a protest rally and accused on falsified evidence of militia and riot militia officers of attack on a traffic militia officer. Having bravely gone through 8 months in prison, Andrei Kim was released in August 2008 on a demand of Belarusian and international community. Andrei Kim’s courage inspires the Belarusian youth in struggle for freedom of their country.
One of the leaders of entrepreneurs’ movement and former militia major Syarhei Parsyukevich was sentenced to 2.5 years in minimum security penal colony in April 2008. The oppositionist was brutally beaten by prison guard Alyaksandr Dulub in the prison on Akrestin Street, where he was serving his term of arrest for participation in a rally of entrepreneurs. The prison guard accused Parsyukevich of beating to avoid charges with excess of power. Parsyukevich didn’t admit his guilt. The political prisoner was serving his term in the penal colony and was released in August 2008. Syarhei Parsyukevich dared to stand up for his rights in the situation when the authorities are trying to destroy small business.
An awful tragedy happened in the family of Halina Yubko 3 years ago – her sister Katsyaryna was killed and burnt. The law enforcement bodies said it was a suicide. But Halina Yubko continues to gather facts and proofs that stayed beyond attention of investigation and court. The woman, food processing engineer, had to retire to devote herself to seeking for justice in the case of her sister’s death. Halina Yubko wrote dozens of complaints and appeals to the prosecutor general and Lukashenka’s administration. But the woman receives just formal replies. Halina Yubko doesn’t give up and is going to appeal the UN Commission on Human Rights. Seeking for truth in the case of her sister’s death, the woman began to help other people who have faced the same unfairness. Halina Yubko helps to file complaints, appeals, gain meetings with high ranking officials and asserts rights.
“Nasha Niva” photo correspondent Yulya Darashkevich represents the brave Belarusian journalists who continue to perform their professional duties in spite of pressure of the authorities. Due to photos by Yulya Darashkevich, the world has learnt about struggles of the Belarusians for freedom and about outrageous violations of human rights in our country. This delicate girl with a photo camera can be noticed at any opposition rally, near court buildings, where political trials are conducted, at the center of events of Belarusian life. She received different journalism prizes for her professionalism. Shots by Yulya Darashkevich record the modern history of Belarus.
The National Human Rights Award was founded by Charter’97 in 1998. In different years the award was granted to participants of camp on October square of Minsk in March 2006; political prisoners Alyaksandr Kazulin, Zmitser Dashkevich, Mikhail Marynich, Artur Finkevich, Paval Sevyarynets, Mikola Statkevich, Mikalai Autukhovich; activist of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union Alena Zakhozhaya; believers, who went on hunger strike to defend “New Life” protestant church; Ivona Matsukevich, the head of the parish committee of St. Joseph’s church; human rights activist Valer Krasouski; wives of disappeared opposition leaders and a journalist Iryna Krasouskaya, Zinaida Hanchar, Svyatlana Zavadskaya, wife of former political prisoner Tatsyana Klimava-Leanovich; People’s Artist of Belarus Zinaida Bandarenka; opposition activist Uladzimir Plashchenka; defenders of Kurapaty memorial complex; creative association “Pahonya” ; music bands N.R.M., Novaye Neba; Belarusian Humanities Lyceum named after Yakub Kolas closed down by the authorities; journalists Pavel Mazheika, Mikola Markevich, Viktar Ivashkevich, Lyubou Lunyova, Yuras Karmanau, Maryna Koktysh, Henadz Barbarych and other famous public figures, politicians and journalists.