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.

Speech on receiving the Indira Gandhi Prize, New Delhi

„Many Europeans and Americans today are painfully aware of the fact that Euro-American civilization has undermined and destroyed the autonomy of non-European cultures. They feel it was their fault, and thus feel they have to make amends through a kind of emotional identification with others, through accommodating them, through trying to ingratiate themselves, through a longing to “help” them in one way or another. To my mind, this is a false way of going about it… It contains… the same familiar feeling of superiority… It is inverted colonialism. It is an intellectual spasm. I think we will all help one another best if we make no pretences, remain ourselves, and simply respect and honour one another, just as we are. “

Václav Havel:
Speech on receiving the Indira Gandhi Prize, New Delhi, February 8, 1994

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