Belarus: Verdict as expected, just as shocking

- The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is not surprised, but just as shocked by the cynicism behind the sentences that were just issued to our Belarusian friends in Minsk, says Secretary General Berit Lindeman. Nobel Prize winner Ales Bialiatski and his colleagues Valiantsin Stefanovich and Uladzimir Labkovitch are sentenced to 10, 9 and 7 years in prison.

Today the final verdict of «Viasna» human rights defenders was announced: the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the chairman of the organization Ales Bialiatski was sentenced to 10 years in prison, his deputy and vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Valiantsin Stefanovich to 9 years in prison, and coordinator of the campaign Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections Uladzimir Labkovich to 7 years in prison. The three men have been in custody for over a year and a half and have been through a trial that meets all the criteria for a farce. The case is a concoction of false accusations. It is rooted in the help the three men gave to protesters who were subjected to the worst forms of abuse during the mass arrests in the wake of Aliaksandr Lukashenka losing the presidential election in 2020.

– The sentence has nothing to do with criminal law, but must be considered a direct order to the judge from Lukashenka, says Lindeman.

– We call on the international community to cooperate with Belarusian civil society and the country’s real elected representatives, such as exiled president Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, in their fight for democracy and the release of all political prisoners, says Lindeman.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has collaborated with Bialiatski and his organization Viasna for a number of years. Already in 2006, the Helsinki Committee awarded him the Andrei Sakharov Freedom Prize, for his courageous and tireless fight for human rights in Belarus.

The trial shows how Lukashenka’s regime punishes our colleagues, human rights defender for standing up against the oppression and injustice. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the persecution of the human rights activists in Belarus and demands unconditional release of all the political prisoners.

NHC, together with other HR organizations stands in solidarity with Belarusian activists.

This is how you can express your solidarity:

  1. Share on social media about the verdict handed down to human rights defenders with the hashtag #FreeViasna;
  2. Take a photo with portraits of Viasna human right defenders and post the photo on social media (layouts for printing T-shirts and posters);
  3. Organize or take part in the signing of solidarity cards, or write words of support to human rights defenders yourself, including online via Solidarity Postcard Workshop;
  4. Send a parcel or money transfer to the human rights defenders of Viasna to the address: SIZO-1, vulica Valadarskaha 2, Minsk, 220030;
  5. Sign a petition for the release of Viasna human right defenders and all political prisoners;
  6. Come up with and implement your creative action demanding the release of political prisoners of human rights defenders.

Share solidarity actions on social media with the hashtag #FreeViasna


Joint Press Release – Imminent verdict in the trial against Viasna’s leaders


Contact us


Berit Lindeman

Secretary GeneralEmail: [email protected]Phone: +47 909 33 379Twitter: @LindemanBerit
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Aliaksandra Safonava

Program Assistant, Project Manager for BelarusEmail: [email protected]Phone: 46373631
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Ivar Dale

Senior Policy AdviserEmail: [email protected]Phone: +47 936 71 900Twitter: @IvarDale
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