Human rights fighters in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine receive the Nobel Peace Prize

Human rights fighters in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine receive the Nobel Peace Prize


A trio of human rights defenders from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, a symbolic election of laureates from three nations at the center of the war in Ukraine.

The honor went to imprisoned activist Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian Memorial group and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties.

“They have gone to great lengths to document war crimes, human rights violations and abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the importance of civil society for peace and democracy,” Norwegian Nobel Committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen told reporters.

The committee asked Belarus to release 60-year-old Bialiatski, who has been imprisoned since 2021.

Baliatski’s wife said she was “overwhelmed with emotion” after the news.

While the award was not a direct message to Putin, Reiss-Andersen called his regime an “authoritarian government that represses human rights defenders,” and the committee wanted to highlight “how civil society and human rights defenders are being repressed.”

Last year, two press freedom advocates were crowned with the Peace Prize, Filipino journalist Maria Ressa and her Russian colleague Dmitry Muratov.

The prize comes with a gold medal, a diploma and a prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor (about 900,000 US dollars).

– ‘Not yielded an inch’ –

The award will be presented at a ceremony in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of the death of the awards’ creator, Swedish inventor and philanthropist Alfred Nobel, in 1896.

Reiss-Andersen said she hopes Bialiatski can attend.

“We hope… that he can come to Oslo and accept the honor that has been bestowed on him,” she said.

Bialiatski was imprisoned from 2011 to 2014 and was arrested again in 2020 following large-scale anti-regime demonstrations.

“He is still being held without a trial. Despite enormous personal hardship, Mr. Bialiatski has not relented an inch in his fight for human rights and democracy in Belarus,” said the Nobel Prize Committee.

Memorial is now the largest human rights organization in Russia. The Supreme Court of Russia ordered the dissolution of the group’s central structure, called Memorial International, in December 2021.

In addition to establishing a documentation center on the victims of the Stalinist era, Memorial collected and systematized information on political repression and human rights violations in Russia.

It became the authoritative source of information about political prisoners in Russian prisons.

The organization is also at the forefront of efforts to combat militarism and promote human rights and rule of law government.

Both Bialiatski and Memorial have been mentioned in Nobel speculation in recent years.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the Center for Civil Liberties, founded in 2007, worked to uncover and document Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civilians.

“In collaboration with international partners, the center is at the forefront of bringing those responsible to justice for their crimes,” the committee said.

The Peace Prize is the only Nobel Prize awarded in Oslo, while the other disciplines are announced in Stockholm.

On Thursday, French author Annie Ernaux, known for her deceptively simple novels drawing on personal experiences of class and gender, won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

She is the 17th woman to receive the 119 literary prize winners since 1901.

Earlier in the week, the awards for Medicine, Physics and Chemistry were announced. The 2022 Nobel season ends on Monday with the announcement of the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics.

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