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With today's opening of the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Stockholm and Helsinki, the Don’t Play with the Dictator! campaign has written a letter to the President of the International Ice Hockey Federation René Fasel, where we urge him and the representatives of the national IIHF member organisations to support the victims of human rights violations by removing the 2014 IIHF World Championship from Belarus at the next meeting of the IIHF General Congress in Stockholm in May 2013. The NHC is a member of the Don't Play with the Dictator! campaign. Read the letter below.
Den norske Helsingforskomiteen har overvåket og rapportert om situasjonen i Hviterussland siden 1994. Fra 2000 har komiteen trappet opp engasjementet i landet og opprettet samarbeid med en rekke uavhengige organisasjoner og medier. Hviterussland kalles "Europas siste diktatur" og myndighetene har slått hardt ned på menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner, medier og opposisjonspartier. Alle valg etter at president Aleksandr Lukasjenko kom til makten i 1994 har vært manipulert. Regimet har slått hardt ned på demonstranter som har krevd demokrati, og fengslet talløse aktivister. Menneskerettighetsorganisasjonene dokumenterer systematiske brudd på rettsikkerheten, ytringsfriheten, organisasjons-friheten, i tillegg til uoppklarte "forsvinninger".
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee presents a series of short documentaries about present and former political prisoners in Belarus, made by local filmmakers. The intention of the documentaries is to present the persons behind the names of the prisoners to a local as well as an international audience. We believe this is important to understand why we must continue to struggle for their release.
On 19 December 2010, two years ago today, thousands of peaceful citizens gathered in central Minsk, protesting the oppression and the stolen presidential elections. The protests were organised on the day of the last presidential elections officially won by Alexander Lukashenko. Lukashenko has been in power since 1994.
International Human Rights Day:
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee dedicates this year’s International Human Rights Day to political prisoners in Belarus, and urges the European Union to join us in demanding their release.
The office of our partner in Belarus, prominent NGO 'Viasna', led by the imprisoned human rights defender Ales Bialiatski, was confiscated on 26 November. The move was the last fulfilment of the illegal conviction of Bialiatski just over one year ago. NHC has protested this last blow against Viasna through the network Civil Society Platform.
Write Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka and ask for an end to the harassment of journalist Iryna Khalip.
Den hviterussiske politiske fangen, den anerkjente menneskerettighetsaktivisten og Nobelpriskandidaten fylles femti år i dag. Over hele Europa blir hans fødselsdag markert, og Den norske Helsingforskomité slutter seg til en uke av gratulasjoner til Ales. Ales Bialiatski, leder av den kjente menneskerettighetsorganisasjonen Viasna i Hviterussland ble i november i fjor tid dømt til fire og et halvt års fengsel for skatteunndragelse samt til inndragning av eiendom.
A dedicated human rights defender and our good friend Boris Zvoskov, head of the Legal Initiative human rights association, has died, after a prolonged disease. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has known and cooperated closely with Boris for over ten years. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
The campaign "Don't play with the dictator" has expressed disappointment with the decision by the International Ice-hockey Federation IIHF confirming at its general assembly in Helsinki that the Republic of Belarus will host the 2014 IIHF World Championship.
As a Norwegian partner, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased with the implementation of the Oslo Freedom Forum 2012, which took place 7 - 9 May. The 2012 Forum has been the best so far, and the NHC is proud to be associated with both the conference and with its participants.
Norsk PEN, Human Rights House Foundation og Den norske Helsingforskomité har i dag sendt brev til Utenriksdepartementet med forslag til en ny strategi for Hviterussland. Forslagene er utarbeidet i rammen av vår kampanje "Aksjon Hviterussland" som har som mål å øke norsk og internasjonalt engasjement for den menneskerettslige krisen i Hviterussland. Norge gjør mye riktig i forholdet til Hviterussland, men det har lenge vært begrenset diplomatisk kontakt mellom landene. Norge støtter EUs sanksjonsregime og gir økende økonomisk støtte til det hviterussiske sivile samfunn. Men vi etterlyser ytterligere tiltak og kreativitet for å legge press på det hviterussiske regimet.
-Norge kan gjøre en forskjell i den postsovjetiske regionen, sier generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland.
Nylig deltok Engesland i et møte sammen med andre menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner og ga innspill til utenriksminister Jonas Gahr Støre for strategier for Russland, Hviterussland og Kasakhstan.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is among international NGOs who today started a joint campaign for the removal of Ice Hockey World Championship from Belarus.
European Development Bank:
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development must maintain demands that Turkmenistan and Belarus meet set benchmarks before any investment in the restrictive countries. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee today participated in a meeting at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, discussing the Bank’s calibrated approach towards Belarus and Turkmenistan. The two authoritarian countries are the only cases in which the EBRD has initiated such an approach that allows for closer monitoring of the progress or regress towards set benchmarks on political and economic reform, and more rapid response to the development.
Conference in Oslo 22 March:
Norwegian PEN, Human Rights House Foundation and Norwegian Helsinki Committee invite you to the conference "Action on Belarus!" in Litteraturhuset in Oslo on 22 March. We are proud to present prominent speakers from Belarus, Norway and European institutions, including the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland and State Secretary of Foreign Affairs Torgeir Larsen. The questions we aim to answer are: Is the pursued policy efficient? Is Norway’s policy towards Belarus clear enough? How can we offer more support to freedom-longing Belarusians? And is the Belarusian people ready for a change?
On January 24, the cassation appeal against the verdict of the Pershamaiski District Court of Minsk, of Ales Bialiatski, Head of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” in Belarus, Vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and one of the founders of the Belarusian Human Rights House in exile, left the sentence against Ales Bialiatski in force: 4.5 years imprisonment in a higher security colony and confiscation of properties. The latter disregards the fact that all the taxes and penalties imposed on Ales Bialiatski have been fully paid by the time of the appeal hearing. The same day, "Viasna" had to vacates their offices through almost twelve years.
On 19 December last year we witnessed thousands of peaceful citizens gathering in central Minsk, protesting the oppression and the stolen presidential elections. That night all hope of progress was shattered as we saw police forces batter the protesters and arresting them by the hundreds. Presidential candidates, opposition leaders, civil society leaders and unorganized citizens were all herded into vans and brought to prison. Thousands fled, running away from soldiers and police beating indiscriminately. Belarusian citizens keep running still a year later.
Ales Bialiatski, leder av den kjente menneskerettighetsorganisasjonen Viasna i Hviterussland ble kl 09:45 norsk tid dømt til fire og et halvt års fengsel for skatteunndragelse samt til inndragning av eiendom. Denne dommen er en skam for Europa, og vi må stå samlet i vår fordømmelse av regimet i Hviterussland, sier Helsingforskomiteens generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland. - Europeiske ledere, inkludert den norske regjeringen, må kreve umiddelbar løslatelse av Bialiatski.
Flere menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner, deriblant Den norske Helsingforskomité og vår svenske søsterorganisasjon Civil Rights Defenders, har blitt nektet visum for å kunne være på plass under rettssaken mot Ales Bialiatski, leder for organisasjonen Viasna. Dette er enda et bevis på at rettssaken mot Bialiatski er politisk motivert.
Norwegian Helsinki Committee is among nine international human rights NGOs signing a protest letter addressed to Belarusian authorities today protesting further tightening the conditions for civil society activity in Belarus. We believe that the new amendments constitute a grave threat to civil society in Belarus.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is actively and well represented at this years' OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw. In our interventions at the meeting we will focus on freedom of religion in Central Asia, rule of law in Azerbaijan, Belarus and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and freedom of expression in Macedonia, Bosnia and Serbia. We are organising a side-event on lack of justice after major human rights violations in Russia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Additionally we organise a side-event on strikers' rights in Kazakhstan and we are also co-organising a side-event with particular focus on Ales Bialiatski and the release of political prisoners in Belarus. Below you will find links to the HDIM webpage, all documents from our side-events and interventions and other relevant links.
Imprisoned Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski turned 49 yesterday. Ales was forced to celebrate his birthday behind bars, despite calls from UN, from EU and all over the world for his release.
The European Parliament adopted on 14 September a resolution on the arrest of the Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski. The Parliament demand the immediate and unconditional release of Bialiatski as well as all other political prisoners in Belarus.
Release political prisoners in Belarus!:
The first week of September, Norwegian Helsinki Committee in cooperation with the International Partnership for Human Rights, Brussels, addressed the members of the European Parliament about the the human rights crisis in Belarus. We did this in view of a September 13 discussion of an urgent resolution concerning the arrest and imprisonment of the prominent Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski. In addition, NHC has together with several international human rights organisations written a letter to the national delegations participating in the Interactive Dialogue with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Belarus.
Yesterday, August 4, Ales Bialiatski, the head of Human Rights Centre (HRC) Viasna and the Vice- President of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) was arbitrary detained in Minsk. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply concerned with Ales Bialiatski's detention, and Secretary General Bjørn Engesland says "We will demand the immediate release of our colleague and good partner Ales Bialiatski by using all appropriate means we have."
Ytterligere to ansatte i Helsingforskomiteen ble i går nektet innreise til Hviterussland. Olga Shamshur og Inna Sangadzhieva skulle sammen med sin kollega Berit Lindeman møte våre partnerorganisasjoner i Minsk. Berit Lindeman fikk adgang, mens Olga Shamshur og Inna Sangadzhieva ble nektet innreise.
Azerbaijan, Belarus and Russia:
Last week, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee hosted a delegation of Azeri, Belarusian, Russian and international human rights defenders. They took part in seminars arranged by the NHC at the Norwegian parliament Stortinget and the Fritt Ord Foundation. In their recomendations to the Committee of Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the PACE and Stortinget, they called for a sharpening of human rights policies towards Azerbaijan, Belarus and Russia.
How can we combine the agenda of bilateral business relations with the active promotion and defense of human rights?
(06/12-2010) -On the surface we have been seeing a different kind of Lukashenko the last few months, with less tension, repressions and sense of intimidation, both Tatiana Reviaka and Pavel Sheremet noted during the seminar at the House of Literature.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee strongly condemns the sentencing of a string of important democracy fighters in Belarus the last few weeks.
During a meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in Oslo on May 5 NHC raised the need for the Human Rights Commissioner to engage actively in the crisis in Belarus. The Human Rights Center Viasna's office was raided while presenting a report on 19 December and following events just hours before the meeting with Pillay.
Statement from the NHC annual meeting 2011:
At these exceptional times – when authoritarian regimes are falling or are under serious pressure by democratic forces in the Middle East and North Africa – we witness that Europe’s last authoritarian states are successful in retaining control and undermining democratic developments.
Belarus - updated 10 December 2012:
We encourage you strongly to write letters to the prisoners! We have met with released prisoners and the families of those in prison, and they all say the same: Letters are both a great comfort and a protection as they make the authorities aware that the prisoners are not forgotten. Please write to the addresses indicated in the description of each of the prisoners. We also encourage you to contact us if you want to engage with support actions for one particular prisoner.
Norske organisasjoner og politiske partier arrangerte 16. mars en solidaritetsmarkering foran Stortinget for å vise støtte til menneskerettighetsforkjempere og for løslatelse av politiske fanger i Hviterussland. Peter Gitmark fra Høyre, John Peder Egenæs, generalsekretær i Amnesty Norge og Berit Lindeman fra Helsingforskomiteen holdt appeller.
Human rights organisations from several countries, including Norwegian Helsinki Committee, address president Grybauskaite of Lithuania to take leadership in advocating for the release of political prisoners in Belarus.
Demonstrasjon i Oslo 16. mars:
Norske organisasjoner og politiske partier markerer igjen støtte til menneskerettighetsforkjempere og for løslatelse av politiske fanger i Hviterussland, med å arrangere en solidaritetsmarkering foran Stortinget 16. mars klokken 16:00.
(16/02-2011) Norwegian Helsinki Committee the 16th of each month marks Day of Solidarity with Belarus. We demand from Belarusian authorities the immediate release of all detainees held in the aftermath of the 19 December events and a total end to the wave of arrests, harassment and searches of human rights activists, lawyers and journalists in Belarus.
Norwegian Helsinki Committee, in cooperation with Human Rights Center Viasna, convened human rights defenders in Vilnius on 20-21 January 2011. The meeting gathered more than 40 NGO representatives from 23 different NGOs from Belarus, Europe and North America.
(20/12-2010) - Med det rå angrepet på fredelige demonstranter, inklusive sentrale opposisjonsledere, i Minsk i etterkant av valget 19. desember, viser regimet i Hviterussland sitt sanne ansikt, sier generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland.
(16/12-2010) Grunnleggende forutsetninger for å kunne gjennomføre valg blir systematisk begrenset i Hviterussland under president Alexander Lukasjenko, sier Bjørn Engesland, som tidligere denne uken ble nektet visum til Hviterussland.
(16/01-2011) Norske organisasjoner og politiske partier demonstrerte søndag til støtte for menneskerettighetsforkjempere og løslatelse av politiske fanger i Hviterussland. Demonstrasjonen fant sted foran Stortinget, og mange hadde møtt opp for å vise sin solidaritet med den hardt prøvede demokratibevegelsen i Hviterussland.
(01/10-2010) The Norwegian Helsinki Committee will be very active during the Warsaw Human Dimension Session of the 2010 OSCE Review conference the first week of October.
(15/09-2010) In a statement published today, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee expresses concerns regarding the severe threats against Natalia Radzina, Svetlana Kalinkina and Nicolai Khalezin.
(19/04-2010) In a letter sent to the President of the Republic of Belarus, Mr Alexander Lukashenko, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, together with 50 other organisations, condemns the execution of Mr. Andrei Zhuk and Mr. Vasily Yuzepchuk.