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.

Diary entry for 13 April 2005, To the Castle and Back

„This year didn’t begin well, either for the world or for me. Its beginning was foreshadowed by the waves of the tsunami. You had to ask yourself: was the planet trying to tell us something, warn us of something, challenge us to take some action? In other words: was this just another one of the billions of cosmic events that create the history of the world, or was it something more?“

Václav Havel:
Diary entry for 13 April 2005, To the Castle and Back, 2006

Ivan Krastev: Europe's FutureVáclav Havel’s Prague