In memory of Aleh Byabenin
(07/09-2010) The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and its staff wish to express our shock and deep sorrow over the death of the Charter ‘97 journalist Aleh Byabenin.
Last Friday the Belarusian journalist and founder of the Charter97.org website Aleh Byabenin was found dead in his summerhouse. Officials have claimed he committed suicide, but a number of questions remain open, and his death occurred as pressure independent forces and opposition is growing as the presidential elections are getting closer.
Aleh Byabenin was the founder and head of the renowned Charter97.org website. Co-founder Andrei Sannikov has announced his intention to register as a candidate in the election for presidency that is expected to take place in December this year, and Byabenin was intended to have a central position in Sannikovs campaign. We knew Aleh as a serious and trustworthy professional, as well as a cheerful and energetic freedom fighter in the best of Belarusian spirit.We express our deepest condolences to his wife, children and parents, and to the team of Charter ‘97 who have lost a dear friend and colleague.
We find that the best way of honoring the memory of Aleh Byabenin is to demand that the full truth behind his death will be revealed, in the same spirit as Aleh demanded the truth. We join those who find the circumstances around his death suspicious.
Byabenin has been harassed by the authorities on several occasions previously.
We call on European states, including Norway, to ask Belarusian authorities to carry out a thorough and transparent investigation of the death of Aleh Byabenin and to do everything in their power to make sure that the full truth is revealed. You may access the web-site charter97 here.