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Winner of the 2013 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize is Ales Bialiatski from Belarus

On Monday, September 30th, at 12:30 CET, Jean-Claude Mignon announced at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg that Ales Bialiatski had been named the historic first laureate of the Václav Havel Award for Human Rights.

Ales Bialiatski (Belarus)

From the start of the 1980s, Ales Bialiatski, a young Belarusian writer and graduate of the Gomel University Faculty of History and Philology, joined the national democratic movement. While the world was still divided by the Iron Curtain, he became a founding member of the Belarusian Popular Front. Helping to create a young writers’ association that he chaired for several years, Ales went on to join the Belarusian Writers’ Union. Later, he organised the first demonstrations against totalitarianism.

This commitment led to his imprisonment in 1988, marking the start of a long series of arrests and harassment.

In 1996, in the face of the increasing repression of the Lukachenko regime, Ales Bialiatski created the Human Rights Centre Viasna. In 2007, just three years after joining International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Ales Bialiatski was elected its Vice-President, the first representative of the former Soviet countries to be elected to the FIDH International Board.

Dagmar Havlova couldn´t be present. This is her speech:

I deeply regret that I am not able to attend this very important event as the Parlianetary Assembly of the Council of Europe elects the first winner of the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize. The creation of the Human Rights Prize named in honor of my late husband and the election of a candidate in the premises of such a respectable institution send a powerful message of hope to all human rights defenders in the world. At the same time, the Prize is a continuation of the strongest legacy of Vaclav Havel, who always, until the end of his days, used his position and moral authority to defend those struggling for freedom and democracy. I feel deep admiration and humility toward the achivements af all three candidates. I am confident that whomever is elected will help advence the effort of all human rights advocates. Thank you.