The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Anne Brasseur, met with the former political prisoner.
The meeting was held in Strasbourg on July 2. Anne Brasseur expressed PACE's full support for the work of all human rights defenders in Belarus. Ales Bialiatski was accompanied by president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Karim Lahidji and FIDH Head of Bureau for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Sacha Koulaeva, Viasna human rights centre reports.
Anne Brasseur used the opportunity to congratulate Ales Bialiatski in person, on behalf of the Assembly, on the award of the first Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize. The Prize was awarded to Bialiatski by the Assembly in September 2013, but the laureate, imprisoned since 2011, was unable to attend the ceremony. The PACE President discussed with Bialiatski the human rights situation in Belarus and the role that the Assembly needs to play to improve it.
“Mr Bialiatski is for us a symbol of an unbreakable commitment to human rights. I sincerely welcomed his release from prison on 21 June, and I am impressed by his strong will to continue his most valuable human rights work and his co-operation with the Assembly and the Council of Europe,” said Mrs Brasseur.
“While praising Mr Bialiatski’s commitment, I also want to express our full support for the work of all human rights defenders in Belarus, who are forced to fight for our common values in very harsh conditions. I am confident that this hard work will not be in vain, and I hope that with their help Belarus will soon become a truly democratic state, respecting the rule of law and human rights standards of the Council of Europe,” the PACE President said.
The former political prisoner and his FIDH colleagues had other meetings in Strasbourg on the same day. They met with President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule. Ales Bialiatski also held a press conference in the European Parliament and gave an interview to EUobserver, an independent online newspaper that covers political events, human rights and democratisation problems in the EU.