Belarus became a laboratory for dictatorships
14:52, — Politics
MEPs told why Ales Bialiatski had nominated for Sakharov Prize.
Polish MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski is a former activist of the Polish anti-communist trade union Solidarność and was involved in the country's EU accession. He became vice chairman of the European People's Party in 2006. He was interviewed by EurActiv.
"I wouldn’t say Ales Bialiatski is little known. He has also been nominated for a Nobel Prize. He is the longest-serving political prisoner of President Lukashenko’s regime. And I would say he is an emblematic figure for the democrats in Belarus. He is the vice president of the International Federation of Human Rights, so he’s widely known worldwide in the circles that deal with human rights protection. At the same time he is founder and president chair of Viasna, the Belarussian human rights defence organisation.
Throughout his life, he has been a fighter of human rights. Courageous, with great civic courage and not hesitating to put his fate and his suffering at stake.
So he is in my view somebody whom Andrei Sakharov himself would grant this prize, because he has exactly the same type of civic courage to fight for some convictions of freedom of thought and expression. So I would compare his psychological and personal profile compare to that of Sakharov.
Sometimes when we attribute the Sakharov prizes, we do not read sufficiently, profoundly the Sakharov life and message itself. We think that it is for everybody who suffers, which is horrible, for everybody who is a martyr, which is also horrible. It’s for people like Nelson Mandela who all their life prove intransigence in their fight for the rights of others. Forgetting their own price to be paid.
So this is the first reason; that he’s so close in his behaviour and courage to the definition of Sakharov himself. The second reason is that Belarus is the doorstep of the Union. Some people say “Why so many Belarusians [are awarded the Sakharov prize]?” Indeed, it would be the third one in the span of the decade. But my answer is Belarus is a laboratory of oppression and dictatorship, incomparable to any other case in Europe. And it is in Europe.
Therefore, there is a special obligation of us here in the European Parliament, the defence of the human rights, values, but also the postures, the attitudes that gives us some hope that one day in the future such situations and countries will not exist or repeat. So it’s not for him. It’s for us and it’s not about him, it’s about us and we should be profoundly grateful that people like him prove that in a widely defined Europe, the fundamental values, European values, which are also universal ones, are defended by people who are ready to pay the highest price, because in such a fight you can never tell whether your life will be threatened or not. In a nutshell, there are roughly three reasons. First, we are talking about a person who is, the way I feeling, ideally fitting the Sakharov message. Secondly, because it’s Belarus, which is a shame for Europe. And the third reason is about fundamental values," - said he.
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