Belarus regime confiscates office of NGO VIASNA

November 27, 2012

On 26 November 2012, the Belarusian authorities did the next step in their harassment of HRDs and confiscated the office of Human Rights Centre Viasna.

The seizure is connected to the case of Viasna’s chairman Ales Bialiatski, who in November 2011 was sentenced to 4,5 years in prison and confiscation of property. The office premises were registered on Ales Bialiatski personally, as Viasna for years has been denied legal registration by the authorities.

Viasna has had the office on Nezalezhnastsi Avenue for 12 years. The confiscation is the latest of many acts of harassment by the authorities against the organisation during the years. [Since Viasna has not been able to register and operate legally in Belarus, the organisation was forced to open private bank accounts abroad. In August 2011 Ales Bialiatski was arrested, suspected of serious tax evasion, after Lithuania and Poland had disclosed information about Belarusian individuals’ bank accounts, at the request of the Belarusian authorities. On 24 November 2011, he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison and confiscation of property.]

On 26 November, a final activity was arranged at the office as Viasna invited journalists, human rights defenders and others to the premises before the doors were to be sealed by the authorities. However, “Viasna will continue activities as usual”, says courageously Valiantsin Stefanovich, Viasna deputy Chairman.

Belarus clearly likes to thumb its nose at the UN Special Rapporteur!

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